Men in Uniform…

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Throughout the 1960s Martins Bank Magazine features what it considers to be its best looking lady cashiers and accounts staff in two photographic strands entitled “Counter Attraction” and “Accounting for Charm”.  (See also WOMEN IN MARTINS BANK). Whether this was designed to have the male staff leering at the pages of the Magazine over their morning coffee is something we’d rather not investigate, but it seems that in 1967 someone with a sense of humour, and possibly balance decided that the men of the Bank’s Messenger Staff should also have their own photo-strand – “Men in Uniform”.  Until this point, Messengers and other non-clerical staff seem largely to have been ignored, with only occasional references being made to day trips and “outings” enjoyed by what is treated by everyone in the Bank almost as a servant class of employee.

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A well oiled machine has many parts, many that are visible, and some not quite so apparent, which work quietly behind the scenes. Without them everything would grind to a halt.  This is perhaps a clumsy comparison, but nevertheless helpful when we consider the day to day running of the larger offices of Martins Bank.  In most Branches the first person a customer will see is a cashier, the smiling face on the front line, through which the desired service can be facilitated, or reference made to back office staff and Management.  By dint of size however, many city and large town branches have another layer of staff.  This could comprise any number of behind the scenes workers, from cooks and waitresses in staff canteens, to caretakers, maintenance staff, and, of course, the MESSENGER.  This ancillary role is vital to the image of the bank in areas where the well heeled have money to invest or believe themselves worthy of special treatment(!)  Hence the smart, shiny scrubbed messengers, who might post a letter one minute, or show a party of dignitaries to the board room the next.  When the Archive was contacted by Cheryl Parsons, grand-daughter of Head Office Messenger in Chief Tommy Parsons (pictured, right), we began to realise that we have so far neglected this key role in the successful presentation of the Bank.  

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Further down this page is our gallery of Messenger staff from various branches around Martins’ empire. You can meet the catering staff of the Bank in our separate feature STAFF CATERING. Treated almost as an “underclass”, the Messenger, Catering and Maintenance Staff know their place, and in a throwback to Edwardian Servants, they are addressed by their first name only, can be paid an annual gratuity of up to £10, and are even allowed an annual day out!  This is where Tommy Parsons comes into the equation, as his grand-daughter has found some photographs of the Head Office Messengers’ Annual Day Out 1954, when Tommy, his colleagues and relative went to the Lake District for the day.

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The Annual Outing of the Messenger Staff Social Club was held on 27TH June and took the form of a coach trip to Bowness-on-Windermere via Kirkby Lonsdale.  The Party numbered 64: - 32 Staff and 32 relatives and friends.  They all went for a sail on the Lake as far as Ambleside and returned to Liverpool at 11pm

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Head Office Messengers’ Outing 27 June 1954

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Short and sweet, this group image and three sentences is all that readers of Martins Bank Magazine have to remember the occasion. Thanks to Cheryl’s photographs however, we can see a little more of this Annual Outing. Apart from the first one, they were all taken at the halfway stage of the journey, in and around the Market Place of Kirkby Lonsdale.  We are not sure if the first photo relates to the outing to Bowness on Windermere, it might possibly have been taken when the group returned to Liverpool late at night, or it may indeed relate to another occasion.

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Image © 1954 Cheryl Parsons

Image © 1954 Cheryl Parsons

Image © 1954 Cheryl Parsons

Image © 1954 Cheryl Parsons

Image © 1954 Cheryl Parsons

Image © 1954 Cheryl Parsons

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Merry Christmas, Everyone…

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Head Office is always an exciting and almost magical building. Frozen forever in the “Beaux Arts” of the 1930s, it has been the backdrop to films, concerts and many happy occaisons.  Here we see the tables in the Staff restaurant set ready for Christmas Dinner in 1959.  For a child in the 1950s, to be invited there for a Christmas Party must have seemd such a privilege, and been a fantastic experience. As the Grand-Daughter of the Bank’s Head Messenger, Cheryl Parsons was lucky enough to receive this annual invitation, and along with her cousins attended a number of children’s parties at Head Office. The grainy image below holds one of Cheryl’s precious memories of these times, and she told us of her affection for Head Office, and about the times she and her Grandfather, Tommy Parsons were able to watch the triumphant parades of Everton and Liverpool Football clubs, from the wonderful vantage point of the roof of the building!

Christmas 1959 – Head Office Dining Room

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 “I have lots of memories about 4 Water Street which is a building I still love I remember my Grandad telling me that the big bronze doors were stolen, I think it was after he retired and someone still there told him about it. It seems that some men dressed as workmen turned up removed the doors and took them away.  There was a spare set of doors which must be the ones currently in use. My Grandad was in the Merchant Navy during the war and had some involvement in transferring the gold in to the vaults at Martins bank. He showed me and my cousins the plaque on the wall and because it was such a familiar story to us I thought everyone knew about it. When they made the TV play about the story I was shocked that people didn't already know.

 

FullSizeRenderMy own memories of Martins bank must go back to 1959. I and some of my cousins used to go to Christmas parties there. We also were on the roof of the bank when Everton won the FA cup in 1966. They paraded through town ending with a balcony reception at the town hall. My Grandad was a lifelong passionate Everton supporter and had waited 33 years to see Everton win that cup again. We were there the next year for Liverpool, how privileged we were.

 

Many years after he retired my Gran needed the deeds to their house which had been lodged at Martins, following his retirement, by then of course Barclays. The bank told my Gran they couldn't find them. I had a tenuous connection with the insurance department of Barclays bank through my own job and phoned them. I spoke to the PA of the person I had asked for and told her what the issue was. Amazingly she remembered my Grandad and spoke of him with real affection, she must have been very young when he was there because this conversation must have been in the 1980s! She was so lovely, anyway, she found the deeds. Good old Martins Bank, one of their own came through. We felt of course, in line with my Grandad’s opinion that Barclays were inferior to Martins!”  

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With grateful thanks for a long career…

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Cheryl’s Grandad Tommy Parsons retires from the service of the bank on Friday 29TH March 1968, several months before the start of Martins Bank’s full merger with Barclays, and he therefore enjoys the whole of his thirty-three year career in the employment of Martins Bank.  Amongst the memories of Tommy in her collection, Cheryl has the following two letters – one inviting staff to a cocktail party at Head Office, the other, a personal reply to Tommy Parsons from Derrick Hanson, Director and General Manager of Martins Bank Trust Company Limited:

 

We can imagine the pride that Tommy must have felt receiving a letter from one of the Bank’s senior directors, and seeing his own name and job title printed at the bottom.  It must have been a most treasured souvenir of the job and the workplace that he loved.  Tommy’s retirement write up in Martins Bank Magazine reveals a long career, and shows how he is valued not just by the staff of the Bank, but also the many tenants of the offices within 4 Water Street which are let to outside companies and individuals…

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1959 to 1968 Mr Tommy Parsons Head Messenger MBM-Su68P53'tommy' Parsons retired at the end of March after completing 33 years' service. He had been head messenger of the Bank at Head Office since 1959 and will be remembered by many who have passed through Head Office for his cheery disposition. He was able to cope with the most unusual requests from finding engagement rings to moving a whole department in the space of a week-end. A collection was made to which many members of the staff and tenants of the Head Office building con­tributed, and with which a portable television was purchased. This was presented to him informally on March 29 by Mr S. Gee, together with a book of names of subscribers. His own messenger staff presented him with a pair of binoculars, to be used for 'bird watching'. After the presentation Mr Parsons entertained his friends and colleagues, past and present, to cocktails.

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The first Head Messenger of the modern day Martins Bank was Mr W J Mantell.  When he retired in September 1948 he was known as Head PORTER, and had a distinguished naval career behind him, as well as his service to the Bank.  He fired the first naval shot of the First World War, sinking a German mine laying cruiser.  Despite being a member of the non-clerical staff, he is given a long retirement write-up in Martins Bank Magazine’s Winter 1948 issue…

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A remarkable tribute was paid by Mr. C. J. Verity to the outstanding character of Mr. W. J. Mantell, the Head Porter, on the occasion of his retirement at the end of September. Referring to Mr Mantell's service of over a quarter of a century with the Royal Navy before entering the Bank Mr. Verity revealed that when he was promoted to the commissioned rank of Gunner during the recent war the Directors subscribed for and presented him with his ceremonial sword as a mark of their esteem. The qualities which are traditional in the Silent Service, a strong sense of duty, responsibility and leader ship, he had brought to the service of Martins Bank and he had set an example of devotion to duty which was unsurpassed. Mr. Verity called upon Mr. Home, as Mr. Mantell's immediate chief, to make the presentation on behalf of subscribers of a canteen of cutlery. The Premises Manager paid a striking tribute to the way in which Mr. Mantell had done his job.

 

In his reply, Mr. Mantell caused a gust of laughter by confessing that up to the time of his application for the position he had never even heard of the Bank of Liverpool and Martins, as it then was. He said that in the beginning he was charged, along with Mr Home and the late Mr. Robinson, with care of the Head Office building, and he now wished to hand it over to Mr. Home. “It's all yours” was his remark which caused further merriment. Every department in the building was represented by its chief and by various members of the staff—a send-off worthy of a great character. The previous evening a dinner in his honour was given at the Mitre Hotel, attended by members of the Messenger and Maintenance Staff. Mr. Home presided, and during the course of the evening paid a warm tribute to the great job which Mr. Mantell had performed.

 

In the first world war he had the honour of firing the first naval shot, when as Chief Petty Officer on H.M.S. “Laforey” the German mine-laying Cruiser Koenigin Luise” was sunk. He was decorated with the D.S.M. for gallantry at the Battle of the Bight, when five German warships were sunk, and was wounded at the Dardanelles when covering the landings at Suvla Bay. In action again with the Harwich Flotilla he was at the Zeebrugge action and was mined outside Dover a little later, afterwards transferring to H.M.S. “Stork”.  In the recent war he was a gunnery instructor with H.M.S. “Royal Arthur”,  later joining the Fleet Air Arm at Inskip.

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Mr W J Mantell

Head Porter

of the Bank

1948

Mr George Oxton

Head Messenger

of the Bank

1948 to 1959

Mr Taylor

Messenger

Burnley Hargreaves St

1949

Mr Harry Tuffs

Messenger

Liverpool Victoria St

1950

Mr R P Lovell

Messenger

Bristol City Office

1959

Mr Tommy Parsons

Head Messenger

of the Bank

1959 to 1968

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Mr S Taylor

Messenger

Burnley

1963 to 1968

Mr C G Turner

Messenger

Preston Fishergate

1965

Mr Eddie Fewson

Messenger

Skipton

1965

Mr A W Leighton

Messenger

Derby

1967

Mr G W Green

Messenger

Penrith

1967

Mr H Mellor

Messenger

Manchester City Office

1967

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Mr J H Trigg

Head Messenger

68 Lombard Street

1967

Mr R E S Mead

Messenger

Bradford Tyrrel St

1967

Mr W Somerville

Messenger

Newcastle City Office

1967

Mr W T Williams

Messenger

Bristol City Office

1967

Mr C Howarth

Chargehand Messenger

Head office

1968 (retiring)

Mr Bernard Riley

Messenger

Warrington

1969

 

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