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Martins Bank 1928+


Image © BT 1966

image076Following a fire, Martins Bank’s Sub Branch operation at Walker moves from its original permanent location at the Walker Mechanical Institute in Church Street, to a temporary room at Walker Boys’ Club early in 1965.  It remains there until being closed down in 1969 just ahead of the merger with Barclays.   The ORIGINAL SUB BRANCH dates back to 1901 and looks every single minute of its years old by the 1960s. We don’t have any pictures of Walker sub Branch during its time at the Boys’ Club, and if you have any images, or memories please do get in touch at the usual address – . Our good friend David Watson did just that, and he has kindly provided detailed fascinating memories of his time with the Bank at Walker Boys’ Club. Not the glamorous modern branch we’ve been used to seeing in the 1960s – quite the opposite, and firmly at the business end of a volatile and despressed area…

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“I was transferred from Inspection Department to my home town branch in Wallsend where, initially, I was to be the clerk at the sub-branch in Wharrier Street, Walker. I was told by Ken Gray, a friend who had worked at Walker sub, that it had been in Church Street originally but had burned down (possibly arson) and that more criminals lived in the block of flats on the opposite side of Wharrier Street than in Durham Jail. The premises were used by the local boys’ club but had previously been a Police Station and you had to pass the cells if you needed to use the toilet.


The Bank had hired a dingy room (half tiled from the floor with dark green tiles and purple wallpaper above). When I first went to the sub the room was bare, with the exception of an old fashioned safe in the corner which contained only bronze coin (all other monies were transported to and from Wallsend), the telephone, and a few other items. Ken had joked that the local criminals practiced their safe cracking skills on it. Three days a week, Danny, the 75 year-old guard, and I had to construct the counter, etc from items stored under the stairs and plug in the telephone, among other things, before we opened, then dismantle everything before we left. After several months we were allowed to leave the counter and other fittings standing.


The sub was open for only six hours in any week but it was quite busy at times and took in substantial amounts of cash, especially on a Monday. Late in my time at the branch a simple alarm was fitted, which consisted of a detachable push button (clipped to the underside of the counter) that plugged into the wall. The wire ran into the caretaker’s flat on the opposite side of the dividing wall and the Bank paid for the installation of a telephone in his home so that he or his wife could phone the Police if the alarm bell was activated. I think the alarm was recommended following an inspection but it may have been hastened by the visit of the local Chief Constable when we turned up one day to find the premises overflowing with policemen.


There had been a murder in the street and the premises had been commandeered by the investigating team. A final mention of Danny. The manager always took us to and from the sub-branch in his car but dropped us off several yards from the main branch on our return. We had to cross the road by a zebra crossing next to the branch and on this occasion Danny was struggling to hold a £100 bag of silver. It slipped from his grasp on the crossing and split, as did some of the paper bags inside. I had my hands full so I dashed into the branch, threw what I was carrying over the enquiry desk, and ran back to help Danny whilst an irate bus driver honked his horn as we made sure every coin was retrieved”.

Text © David J Watson 2013

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1968 D J Watson  DJW-MBA.jpg






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David J Watson

Clerk in Charge

1966 to 1968






Index Number and District:






11-95-81 Newcastle Upon Tyne Walker

Sub to 11-95-81 Wallsend

c/o Walker Boys’ Club Wharrier Street Newcastle NE6 3EB

364 North Eastern

Mon Wed and Fri 1000-1200

No Saturday opening

Wallsend 624294

Counter Service Only

Mr A M Parr Manager (Wallsend)


12 December 1969

Opened by Martins Bank Limited