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Poorly paid, but still “one of the family”…

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MBM CoversDespite women’s lib being in full swing when Martins merges with Barclays, there is little evidence throughout the history of Martins Bank Magazine, that it, or indeed the Bank ever sees women as much more than either not worth the trouble and expense of career development at best, or, (and we are certain that this was at least innocently or unintentionally) as mere “decorations” at worst. 

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WHY NOT ALSO VISIT THESE PAGES

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image019Indeed a number of Martins colleagues have intimated that women are used in certain branches to attract the business of wealthy male customers. As there is no direct evidence of this, we are happy to simply cast a wry eye over the role of Martins’ ladies, through items from the magazine across the decades. We say a wry eye, because by today’s standards Martins’ efforts towards equality of the sexes are very much of their time, but should not be completely dismissed as either patronising or sexist, as they were not meant this way.  We cover some of the employment inequalities of women in A CAREER WITH MARTINS BANK finding that at least what Martins’ women lacked in equal pay and career opportunities, their employer tried hard to make up for in its overall ethos of treating the whole staff as a family.  In this respect Martins women probably enjoyed more freedom at work than millions of women in other professions, and from an earlier point in history – the use of women as bank managers during the Second World War is pioneering in its own way. 

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Martins Bank Magazine takes every opportunity to feature the ladies of the bank in its pages, but often under titles such as “Counter Attraction” (female cashiers) or “Accounting for Charm” (women who worked behind the scenes). Although this would today be seen as exploitation, it does have its willing participants, realising that fifteen minutes of fame ranks more highly than the thought of men leering at them. We’ll take a look at Ladies in Martins from the 1940s, right up to Autumn 1969 when Martins Bank Magazine has, only less than one year earlier, finally decided to provide a page or two “of interest to women”, under the somewhat dubious heading of “Feminine Fayre”…

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image019The 1940s

 

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1949 Miss Jean Lyle Tennis Article MBM-Wi49P47It is never the intention either of the Bank or the Magazine to belittle or demean women. Indeed whenever the chance arises to highlight a woman’s achievements, these are very well represented.  As so many women stepped into the shoes of their male counterparts during the war, their work was respected, and their value appreciated.  Achievements outside the bank are always highly praised, as in the case of Miss Jean Lyle (left) of Bexley Heath Branch, who in 1949 wins a tennis tournament staged by a major London newspaper:

 

“Miss Jean Lyle of Bexley Heath branch recently distinguished herself in the world of tennis by winning, in partnership with her sister, the Women's Doubles in the London " Evening News " Tournament (for players who play their tennis in the clubs and parks of London and a 25-mile radius, in the evenings and during the week-end). The final was played at the Queens Club, London, and the sisters won 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. Miss Lyle was also successful in reaching the final of the Women's Singles, and though she lost 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, it was an excellent effort, played as it was almost immediately after the doubles. Miss Lyle and her sister now hold the " Evening News " Silver Challenge Cup for one year, and in addition they each received a presentation tennis racquet and a voucher to be expended on sports equipment. Miss Lyle received a further racquet and a voucher for the singles event. Last year Miss Lyle played for Kent v. Essex, and in September she played in the final of the Kent County Club Tournament”.

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image019The 1950s

 

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We already know that being a woman in the bank means giving up your career when you get married. The full force of this ridiculous waste of talent seems to hit home (in today’s terms at least) in the following article from 1954, which as you read it begins to sound more and more like an obituary.

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1954 02.jpgBETTY JACKSON

 

Betty JacksonOn January 1st, 1948, a frail-looking girl joined the staff of Editorial Department and began a most remarkable con­tribution to the work of the Bank. Betty Jackson combined with a deep love of the arts, especially literature, a keen interest in people, a compassionate and sym­pathetic nature, a tremendous sense of fun, a passion for foreign travel, a knowledge of several languages, and a loyalty and devotion which were beyond praise. She was the ideal choice for a department whose especial concern is with the social and cultural aspects of human relation­ships and which on the business side demands creative ability.

 

1948 Miss Betty Jackson Editorial and Advertising Dept MBM-Sp48P31She threw herself with enthusiasm into every new venture of the department, whether helping to construct an Historical Tree, preparing a new brochure, compiling the wealth of information needed for the construction of a new set of advertisements, or helping to organise, conduct and act as hostess on a foreign tour. Wherever she went she made friends and it is no exaggeration to say that she transformed the job she was given into something no one ever dreamed of and added immeasurably to the stature of the Magazine itself and to the importance of the work we are trying to do. In view of these remarks, therefore, it will come as no surprise to anyone to learn that she has now forsaken her business career for marriage and on May 8th became the wife of Mr. Anthony Reid, a very good friend of ours whom we hold in the highest esteem.  He too, is a banker and an author, and we can rejoice that her future life will be spent in company with one whose interests are identical with her own. We record our grateful thanks for all she has given to the Bank and for all she has been to us in daily association, and we wish Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Reid good health and great happiness in their new life in Bournemouth.

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image019The 1960s

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Perhaps the 60s will be enlightened, or liberated?  You might have noticed from the many images of staff on our BRANCH NETWORK pages that Martins Bank Magazine features mainly pictures of the male staff who have been promoted to management or equivalent departmental roles.  Occasionally, and even then mostly in the last two years of the Bank’s existence, are women featured in this way.  Otherwise the Magazine is faced with the problem of how to represent the many women in the bank, and also of how to reflect their interests.  Judge for yourself from the following regular features which begin in 1963 and run on and off until the last issue of the Magazine…

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Counter Attraction

1963 onwards

 

Counter Attraction

 

Counter Attraction

 

Counter Attraction

COUNTER ATTRACTION is a series of portraits of cashiers, but ONLY the female ones.  Attraction to some, distraction to others, it is the kind of pageant that is willingly entered into – after all, your friends and family, and your colleagues all over the country will see your picture - but Counter Attraction bears an “innocence” which is very much of its day…

 

Accounting for Charm

1966

 

Accounting for Charm

 

Accounting for Charm

 

Accounting for Charm

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ACCOUNTING FOR CHARM features the backroom staff of the branches, but again, only the female ones. The ladies who normally operate the statement machines and deal with the clearing now have their own turn in the limelight, but as with Counter Attraction the exact audience for this gallery can be easily guessed…  Imagine then what thoughts must have gone through people’s head when in 1967, this next gallery of “lovelies” made its debut:

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Men in Uniform

1967

 

Men in Uniform

 

Men in Uniform

 

Men in Uniform

 

“You can keep your hat on” as the song says, and as if to balance things out, the men of the Martins Messenger Staff are out in force to give the ladies, (and anyone else who wants to) something to look at!   

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Beryl Evans, the first Board Appointed Manager in the Bank…

1963

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1963 sees one of most justly rewarded promotions in the history of the Bank- Beryl Evans is appointed by the Board to the role of Assistant Manager, Editorial and Advertising Department.  What makes Beryl perfect for such a role?  Click HERE to read our special feature on this remarkable woman…

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Public Relations

1959 - 69

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Relatively few women progress beyond clerical or secretarial work in Martins Bank. Looking at the available records, it is difficult before 1950 to find a married woman, let alone one with some degree of authority.  From the mid fifties onwards this begins to change, but not fast enough. It seems that men not only hold high office, but are often the only ones encouraged to seek it. 

 

It is also quite the norm for Martins to use smiling female staff to appeal to male customers. Their pictures,as we have already seen, are published in the staff magazine under headings such as ‘Counter Attraction’  and ‘Accounting for Charm’… One of the few exceptions is Leila Danbury who as press liaison officer, attahced to Messrs Osborn Peacock, is the official voice and occasionally face of the bank when major announcements – concerning for example the opening of new branches or the installation of computer equipment -  are made.

 

In a final attempt to address any perceived male slant to its coverage, Martins Bank Magazine takes the step of launching a women’s section in 1968, and very psychedelic it is, too:

 

1959 Miss Leila Danbury MBM-Sp59P38

Leila Danbury  is pictured here in 1959

in her role as Press Officer at the

opening of the Leicester Drive-in Bank

At long last – some (stereotypically) “Feminine” Fayre!

1968

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1968 03 MBM.jpg“We have been criticised for neglecting our many women readers: too little of the Magazine is devoted to their interests.  In an effort to remedy the situation we conducted a little market research to discover what might appeal, and the results are reflected in ‘Feminine Fayre’ on pages 34 and 35”…

 

The first edition of Feminine Fayre sets out to include as many topics of interest to women as can be fitted into two pages.  On page 34, readers are treated to “A dish for calorie counters” – Eggs Eugene for Four.   Amongst the ingredients of this “low calorie meal” are four large eggs, four slices of white bread and four ounces of butter, not to mention a further two ounces of fatty bacon.  Sadly the number of calories per serving is not provided, perhaps this is because it might have taken up all of page 35… This season’s sweater dress is featured, and the model wearing it certainly strikes a jaunty pose.  All that wool seems worth getting hot and sweaty for, as the dress is available in stores for the bargain price of 95 shillings.  (That’s £4.75) On page 35, women are reminded that flat heeled and traditional walking shoes do NOT keep out the wet, and that it is better to buy new “waterproof” shoes rather than using dubbin or leather oil, as this will take away the polish: -

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There is an interesting article on combining the cost of decorating with a love of photography, by displaying portrait photos in your home.  Tips are given for making an eye-catching wall display, which could represent a gallery of your loved ones.  Don’t just use a living room wall, why not space photos out down a staircase, or suspend them between room divider poles (?) or bookcases.  The whole sixties feel can be maintained by sticking unmounted images to plastic backing, and your local photography studio will help you mount your favourites with ease! Whether it’s style Angela (top) or style Deborah (right), you’ll need to know how to avail yourself of “one versatile cut, one basic set” before stepping out in this season’s sweater dress and heading for the discotheque. 

 

Angela’s halo of soft curls is flattering to ALL face shapes (just as well, really) and yes you WILL need to back-comb.  The secret of Deborah’s completely different look is the careful use of a hair ornament. In all seriousness, Feminine Fayre seems to have worked its socks off finding such a diverse bag of topics from which to draw, but sadly, it lasts for only five issues.  Who knows what dizzy heights this column may have reached had Martins not been taken over?  The later editions continue to feature hairstyles, (one notably featuring models named  ‘Candy’, ‘Marshmallow’ and ‘Lollipop’) and stories as diverse as:  How’s your decorating?  Collars are News, Boat Race Special, Cool look for Spring, Knit one…, Jump into Summer, Double your Money, Did you know…, Strike a Match, Nimble Fingers, Attracting Interest, Cook’s special from the North and The misadventures of Miss Poorlyfoot. It appears that the ladies in Martins really do have fun, after all…

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