WELCOME to November at Martins Bank Archive, and to MARTINS BANK MAGAZINE – our news feature in honour of the Bank’s staff publication, which from 1946 to 1969 brought news of changing times, new Branches and services and even new technologies to Staff in England Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. From Drive-In Branches to computerisation and the birth of the Cash Dispenser, Martins has it all.
On 1 November 1968 Martins Bank Limited became one of the Barclays Group of Companies – a status maintained until close of Business on Friday 12 December 1969. The following Monday, 730 branches of the bank opened their doors under the name of Barclays. As we find ourselves in another year tinged with the sadness of the closure of almost 20 former Martins Bank Branches, we really appreciate the support of our ever increasing band of loyal visitors and contributors. There are now fewer than 100 former Branches of Martins Bank still open, and to mark their passing, our Branch Watch feature now has a separate page featuring details of THE LAST 100 BRANCHES. Our most recent news stories are shown below, and you can catch up with some previous stories in-depth, by downloading our half-yearly Newsletters (see above). Don’t forget to visit our sister site - Lewis’s Bank Archive - which tells the story of Britain’s department store bank for the nine years that it was a subsidiary of Martins Bank. Click HERE to visit the Lewis’s Bank Archive web site (opens in a new window).
ANOTHER first for Martins Bank!
Considering that in terms of size, Martins was always regarded as being in the “little six” of Britain’s eleven 1960s clearing banks, it brought about an astonishing number of FIRSTS, the effects of which can still be felt today. From being first to introduce bi-lingual cheque for Welsh speaking customers, to choosing and adopting first the methods for the compuerisation of cheques which having lasted fifty years are only just about to be superceded by a new system in 2018. You can read about Martins Bank’s Firsts on our special feature page, but here is another one showing an early commitment to the provision of facilities for disabled staff. Martins Bank becomes the first bank to adapt its telephone answering equipment for use by a blind telephonist, when its rebuilt branch at 20 Fawcett Street Sunderland re-opens on 22 February 1965. Martins Bank Magazine publishes the following short piece in its “News from the Districts” section…
PABX at Sunderland.
Sunderland branch occupied their modernised premises on February 22nd and in the new office is a PABX No 1 Telephone Installation, specially adapted for use by a blind operator, Mr J. Carr.
The Blind Persons Resettlement Officer of the local Ministry of Labour office says that so far as he is aware this is the first installation in this country to be so adapted. Mr Carr, who received two half-days' instruction in the new equipment, is fully confident that he can manage it.
Banking in post-war Liverpool
Following the destruction of large areas of the City of Liverpool during World War 2, a number of housing estates were built to accommodate those who were displaced. In the new towns of Kirkby and Croxteth, there was plenty of housing, new schools and even new churches, but amazingly very few shops. In 1957 Martins Bank already had a sub-branch on Kirkby’s industrial estate, but no service close enough to be able to serve those living in the new housing estates. A permanent branch was planned for Kirkby, but this could not be realised until 1961. In the meantime the Bank’s fleet of mobile branch caravans stepped in, and on 16 September 1957 they rolled up first in Southdene, Kirkby, and later that day at Moss Way Croxteth to provide a full banking service to the local people. Two areas of ground were reserved and signs like the one pictured here were erected, to inform customers of when the caravans would be in attendance. You can read more about this special service on our Kirkby and Croxteth Mobile Branch page, which includes a restored version of the local newspaper advertising taken out by the bank, and the Memories of Sir Brian Pearse, who worked on the service when it began. Banking on housing estates had also been tried out around the same time in Plymouth, and this led to the establishment of a sub-branch at Ernesettle.
500 Golden Eggs?
When Martins and Barclays were merged, the richest pickings for Barclays, apart from a large number of well appointed Branches, almost 100 of which are still in business today, was the acquisition of Martins Bank’s Trust Company and its amazing Unicorn Bonds and Unit Trusts. The Bank told its staff that investing in Unicorn was “like putting 500 eggs in one basket”! We have recently added to our Martins Unicorn feature page, several advertisements from 1967, where the benefits of the Unicorn schemes are explained to customers. This was an extremely successful campaign, as it was able to provide details of the stunning performance of these Unit Trusts in their first ten years of life. Investors whose income was reinivested collected almost THREE TIMES their initial investment. You can read about Martins Unicorn, and its base at Unicorn House, Romford Road, and see the original advertisements by clicking HERE.
Take three girls…
We were thrilled to obtain a copy of this fabulous photograph from our good friends at Barclays Group Archives. It shows three members of the staff at Martins Bank’s Liverpool Computer Centre, Derby House, performing various tasks with the mighty Ferranti Pegasus II computer, still in service after nearly ten years of processing the accounts of the Bank’s Liverpool customers. The wonderful Pegasus has nothing that we might recognise from today’s computers, but it certainly does have an air of 1950s sci-fi about it! The nearest to a screen is the pair of oscilloscopes. The long and winding paper tape on the left is used both for programming and input. The only thing that looks familiar is the printer on the right.
There is a small mystery here – neither we nor Barclays know the names of the girls in the photo. Perhaps one of them is YOU, or perhaps you know who one or more of them are. If you can help, please do get in touch at the usual address email@example.com.
You can see more of Pegasus and learn about how Martins adapted it to handle the daily work of forty branches by visiting our NEW TECHNOLOGY feature. There, you will find pages for LIVERPOOL COMPUTER CENTRE and for the PEGASUS II COMPUTER.
Three Centuries of Banking?
The closure at the end of November and in the first week of December 2018, of Milnthorpe, (left) and Coniston, (right) Branches, marks two important records of service – each Branch has been open for all of one century, and part of two more. Milnthorpe opened in 1883, and coniston in 1884. Both were original offices of Messrs Wakefield Crewdson’s Kendal Bank, when Milnthorpe was in Westmorland and Coniston in Lancashire. Once again the axe has been brought down on a number of former Martins Branches, as customers tell their Bank they prefer not to use face to face services any more. You can keep up to date with Branch closures on our MARTINS BRANCH WATCH PAGE. So far this year SEVENTEEN branch closures have been announced – ten have already gone, with Moston, Rothbury, Wooler, Eaton (Norwich), Moor Park (Preston), Milnthorpe and Coniston closing soon. As ever we extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone who has served customers at these Branches, from Martins’ days and before, right up to the present day. Branches are being added to the list at a fair old rate now, and we will try to announce closures to our visitors just as soon as we are aware they are going to happen.
News for family tree researchers…
At Martins Bank Archive, we have been working for more than a decade on our Martins Staff Database, which we believe to be the only digitised archive of the staff who worked for the bank. With around half a million entries, it is now a comprehensive record for the period 1946-1969, and the number of earlier records dating back to the late 1800s is now also substantial. The vast majority of the Staff members included are sadly no longer with us, and for those who are we have made special mention on our DATA PROTECTION page, in line with new rules which came into force on 25 May 2018. All of the information held has already been in the public domain for a minimum of 50 years. Nearly all of it was published and distributed in paper form to Martins Bank’s Staff in “Martins Bank Magazine”. Our database brings together for the first time, information which allows us to produce career details for those researching their family tree, or those who want to remember their career with the Bank. Information falls into several categories – New Entrant, Transferred, Appointed, Married, Retired, Died. We are now in the process of adding further previously published details including public service along with any titles thus conferred, and details of training courses undertaken and Banking or other relevant examinations taken and passed. If you would like to know what details we have for you or a relative who once worked for the Bank, then please do get in touch with us at the usual address firstname.lastname@example.org.
…and an appeal:
We are always looking for head and shoulders photographs of staff as they were when they worked for the Bank. Martins tended to publish mainly photographs of the MALE staff, and we would like to redress the balance by being able to add images of female staff members to the staff galleries which are shown at the bottom of nearly all of our Branch Pages here within our Online Archive. Also - if you are the relative of a member of staff who is no longer with us, and you would like to send us a photo to be placed on each relevant Branch or Departmental page of our web site, then please do get in touch with us at the usual address email@example.com. It was the Staff that made Martins Bank so special and fondly remembered, and the more faces we can add, the stronger the collective memory will become.
Pictured here is Sally Edge, Cambridge Branch, 1967.
Our Autumn/Winter Newsletter has been produced a month or so earlier than usual, to allow for a special Spring/Summer edition, which will be issued in JANUARY. This is because it will focus on a story that sees TWO major developments in British banking forced into existence through the cut and thrust of competition. In January 1959, Martins Bank is just a few weeks from opening Britain’s first Drive-In Bank at Leicester. The story has already aroused a good deal of interest in the national press, when on 5 January, Martins’ rival the Westminster Bank not only beats Martins to it, they also open Britain’s first drive in bank on Martins Bank’s home soil of Liverpool! Recollections from the time talk of “incandescent” Martins Directors swearing to “get even” with the competition by staging another, similarly lavish project. Martins’ revenge on its rival is truly still having repercussions in today’s banking World. Watch out for a special feature from the Archive on the web site, and the special edition of our newsletter available 1 Jan 2019!
History goes up in smoke…
The news that Liverpool’s iconic Littlewoods Pools building was largely destroyed by fire on 2 September 2018 is sad indeed. At one time the Littlewoods organisation was one of the biggest of Martins Bank’s Corporate Customers, and “doing the football pools” was a national institution that we thought would never end. Littlewoods’ Art Deco building was featured on all Littlewoods Pools’ winning cheques, and it can be seen here in this example from the Archive. The current owners of the building still hope to turn the site, which has been derelict for a number of years, into a film and TV production base, and we wish them every success in this venture which should return the building to its 1930s magnificence, AND give it purpose in this new Century.
To the sick man of Europe…
We love a good mystery, and the recent acquisition by the Archive of a letter written by Martins Bank’s Leeds District General Manager’s office on the eve of World War II offers for a change, a mystery of a distinctly quirky nature. We can identify the sender, and some of those named within the letter, but it is the sheer humour with which it was all put together, along with the way in which the recipient is treated by his colleagues, that makes this a unique experience for us. Just for once we don’t have to rely on the set pieces of Martins Bank Magazine assuring us that all is perfect, and to be able to glimpse – just for a moment – beyond the veil of British Stiff upper-lippidness into the real FAMILY workings of Martins Bank is a rare thing indeed. The letter has been in the possession of Jackie Philp for more than 40 years, and for much of that time, she tells us, it languished at the back of the glove compartment of a car bought by her husband. They were living in Exmouth at the time. Written in June 1939, the letter is a “plea” to a member of staff to make a quick recovery and return to work. It is clear that this particular employee is well liked, and that this communication is the equivalent of one of those “get well soon” cards which in the modern day workplace would have been seen and signed by everyone before being sent…
Greetings to the Sick Man of Europe,
When I arrived at the Office yesterday morning consternation reigned, cosmos was superseded by chaos as I informed my colleagues of the direful news that, instead of proceeding in orderly formation to “that” Branch we must, perforce, remain at our posts owing to your untimely indisposition.
Having informed the Bank of England of this epoch making disturbance, we settled down and endeavoured to busy ourselves with our routine duties. This, however, was exceedingly difficult - for ever and anon Coates' massive frame was shaken with sobs. Sills was continually blowing his nose in a marked manner, whilst I wept silently, in a corner. The feminine element of our Staff was also shaken to the core - all three members were to be seen at intervals madly gyrating round the room in rapidly decreasing circles, meanwhile emitting shrill cries and pouring upon their unworthy heads sprinklings of ashes.
In order to beguile away your long hours of suffering Maximilian has taken up his brush and upon the enclosed canvas perpetrated one of his customary atrocities. It is not necessary for me to paint the lily, but in passing I would mention, for the sake of clarity, that your left foot is swollen owing to an affliction of gout, the other protuberance, which is easily discernible, is due no doubt to something other than gout.
It now only remains for me to counsel you to be of good cheer, for is it not said that a man’s years shall be three score and ten, and I have no doubt that you will be spared until this time, even though it is probable that you will live in fearful agony. We have not yet heard any definite diagnosis of your malady. Various guesses have been hazarded, ranging wildly from leprosy to laryngitis, from whooping cough to whoopee (!) and other suggestions which I fear I dare not mention though they may be somewhat nearer the point. And now, as time presses, lunch calls and my stenographer faints by the wayside, I will leave you, reminding you that it has been said that an army marches upon its stomach so I trust that during your convalescence you will not neglect that important organ and will ply it with viands and victuals as is your wont.
Yours, lest my gorge rises,
E G MORRELL
We have sent a copy of the letter to the Barclays/Martins Leeds Pensioners group, in the hope that someone might just have heard tell of this letter having been sent, and we will also feature it on our Facebook® page and in the next download of our newsletter, in the Autumn. If you can identify the Sick Man of Europe, please do get in touch with us at the usual address – firstname.lastname@example.org.
The PLAY’s the thing!
A number of pages have recently been added to the NORTH EASTERN PLAYERS section of our “Song and Dance” feature. Most pages for the other four of the Bank’s Amateur operatic and Dramatic Societies have also been revamped, and we are working hard to add the details of as many of the productions staged by Bank staff as we can. Three performances by the North Eastern Players have been added, coinciding with the recent acquisition by the Archive of original programmes. They are: 1947 – Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier, 1949 – Arsenic and Old Lace by Joseph Kesselring, and 1950 – The Shop at Sly Corner by Edward Percy. The existing page for two earlier productions has now been split into two updated pages – 1937 – Ten Till Three by H Vincent, and 1939 – the Late Christopher Bean by Emlyn Williams. This is because further information about these productions has been provided to us by the British Newspaper Archive. A further new page for the North Eastern Players has been added in respect of their 1952 Production – Little Lambs Eat Ivy, by Noel Langley. You can access the new and the updated pages below:
50 Years On…
December 2019 sees the fiftieth anniversary of the day that more than 700 branches of the Bank that had closed for the weekend as Martins Bank Limited, opened up again on the Monday as Barclays. The Grasshopper Pensioners Club wants to mark this day, and is currently looking for ideas from former Martins Staff Members. Please click HERE or on the Eagle and Grasshopper poster (left) to open a copy of a letter issued by Club Secretary Dave Baldwin to ALL Barclays Pensioner Clubs so that Martins members can make suggestions. Your memories of merger day will also be important in the coming months. Here on the Archive Web Site we will be marking the anniversary by summarising the huge pile of pink merger circulars that were issued, to match the days on which they were issued to branches. Fifty years on, when we now have more technology at our fingertips than we know what to do with, your memories of this major merger are important documents of social history. Therefore. WHATEVER you were doing, from answering the phone with the wrong bank name to coping with merging daily processes, in branch or department, or at Martins’ computer centre, we would love to hear from you.
We have left the following article here once again for reference, to help explain the position regarding the theft of copyrighted images for the purposes of re-sale. There is a common misconception that if you can Google an image, then it is “in the public domain” and you can do what you want with it. Even some staff at eBay® believed this until they were recently put right – if you take or copy someone else’s work or property without their permission or acknowledgement, and sell it on to make even a penny out of it, this is breach of copyright, and the real owner can take legal recourse to stop further theft and misuse of their property. There are currently on eBay® a number of listings of photographs for sale, showing scenes from the past and old buildings including these four (and many more) Branches of Martins Bank. These images originated on our web site. As you can see, under our agreement with the owner, we prominently display copyright. These images have been copied and printed onto cheap photographic paper. The seller even has the gall to add their own watermark to the displayed images to prevent others from stealing them!!!
As well as being against copyright law, these items are worthless, having little more than sentimental value – you will often find that collections and archives will make images available free of charge for private use, but you MUST check with them first. You should always check the seller’s right to copy the image – reputable sites such as eBay® do now allow you to report copyright infringement. For ANY item of memorabilia, the best thing to do is shop around and compare prices – in the case of Martins Bank there are often up to twenty different items for sale on eBay® alone on any given day. For printed material which looks as if it has been copied, or actually claims to be a copy, ALWAYS question the seller about copyright.
Best Regards, Jonathan.
Westmorland, Thursday 1ST November 2018
WHILST MARTINS BANK ARCHIVE HAS NO CONNECTION WITH THE DAY TO DAY TRADING ACTIVITIES OF THE
BARCLAYS GROUP OF COMPANIES, WE ARE GRATEFUL FOR THE CONTINUED GENEROUS GUIDANCE, ADVICE
AND SUPPORT OF BARCLAYS GROUP ARCHIVES IN THE BUILDING AND SHAPING OF THIS ONLINE SOCIAL HISTORY.