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This is a story of great optimism, It tells of the South Western District of Martins Bank, only formed in 1960, doing so well for itself in just six or seven years, that lavish, expensive expansion is approved AND goes ahead, even with the death-knell sounding for Martins Bank itself.  We are particularly grateful to Barclays for a number of images, and to Mrs Clarkson, widow of the first South Western District Manager Mr G E Clarkson, for her contribution to our Archive…

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An important new step in the history and progress of the Bank will take place at the beginning of April when the branches in the South West will be grouped into a fully fledged District with a District Office in Bristol. A local Board of Directors has been appointed and there will be a District General Manager, a Superintendent of Branches and an Inspector. The Chairman of the Local Board will be Mr. G. E. McWatters who has been elected to the General Board of the Bank. Educated at Clifton College, Mr. McWatters repre­sented Bishopston on the Bristol City Council from 1950-53.

 

1960 Mr G E McWatters Chairman MBM-Sp60P30.jpg

Mr G E McWatters

1960 Viscount Cilcennin Director MBM-Sp60P30.jpg

Viscount Cilcennin

He is President of the Bristol Central Parliamentary Conservative Associ­ation and Chairman of the West Country Branch of the Institute of Directors. He is Chairman and Managing Director of John Harvey & Sons, Ltd., wine merchants. The Right Hon. the Viscount Cilcennin of Hereford, P.C., will be a director. He is Chairman of T.W.W. (Independent Television for South Wales and the West of England). He is also a director of Bestwood Co. Ltd.; of the Clerical, Medical and General Life As­surance Society; of the General Reversionary and Investment Co.; and of Silentbloc Ltd. Lord Cilcennin is a man of wide interests apart from business. He has been Lord Lieutenant of Herefordshire since 1957 and he is a Governor of Rugby School. He was Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for War, 1940; Lord Com­missioner of the Treasury, 1940-43; Financial Secretary to the Admiralty, 1943-45; Vice-Chairman of the Conservative and Unionist Party, 1945-51; First Lord of the Admiralty, 1951-56; and a Knight of St. John, 1958. The District General Manager will be Mr. G. E. Clarkson and details of his and other South Western District appointments will be given in our next issue…

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In 1960 Martins Bank’s South Western District Office is the newest in its network of “local head offices”, but it has to share 47 Corn Street, both with Bristol City Office Branch, and Bristol Trustee & Investment Department. Mr G E Clarkson is the first appointed South Western District General Manager, a post he holds until the time of the merger with Barclays, some nine years later. At long last there is more local control over the Bank’s branches in the West and South West of England, and the South of Wales.  Growth in the work of this new office is exponential – so that larger premises are soon required. In January 1968, the South West District Office moves over the road to No 48 Corn Street which has been designed for the future needs of the growing district. 

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1967 – to let…

2008 SWDO Building for let by Burston Cook Agents - MBA.jpg

…2007 – to let once more

The workload has istelf, grown because Martins is still “growing” its branch network in the area. The majority of new state of the art branches opened in the 1960s are to be found within the boundaries of South Western District. These include the opening of new offices and the redevelopment of older ones in Bristol.  The Bank’s presence in Newport, Monmouthshire increases from one to three branches.  A second branch opens in Cheltenham at Montpelier, and the original Cheltenham branch premises are bulldozed and rebuilt. Gloucester Branch is also given new premises suited to modern banking, following a highly critical inspection report that condemns the existing premises as “unfit”.  A number of new sub branches are also opened in prime shopping areas of many towns and cities in the South West.

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Swindon, shown above (left) has a brand new state of the art branch in 1964, which looks as if it would fit easily anywhere on today’s High Street.  A young district thus requires a modern district office, and then chance for Martins to move into a building of the right size so close to their existing buildings, is too good to miss. The two images above show 48 Corn Street as she was to let in the late 1960s, and again forty years later in 2007. The colour image is shown here courtesy of Burston Cook Commercial www.burstoncook.co.uk.  Before we see the ambitious reworking of the building by Martins, we have some more images taken when the building was empty and ready to be let to the Bank…

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Barclays main Bristol Office is only four doors down…

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…48 Corn Street was once a large post office…

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Inside, progress and tradition have not mixed well…

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Some ugly features…

…some not so bad!

With 6,000 Square Feet of space to play with, Martins design staff can really go to town on the building to make it into a District Office that is “future-proof”.  The results are shown below, in what are currently the only known photographs of the new interior. All looks fabulous, and ready for take off, but that bit about being “future-proof”, well, that might be a step too far…

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In 1968 Martins Bank Magazine publishes a kind of triumphant “we told you so” article, showing off a series of pictures of the lavish new offices at 48 Corn Street, and declaring that they always new the South Western District would expand.  Ironically, within nine months of this article being written, the first stage of the takeover of Martins by Barclays will have been completed…

 

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SWDO1            SWDO2

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1968 01 MBM.jpgfrom our spring issue 1963 following a visit to Bristol in snow and ice: “The old saying 'nothing succeeds like success', is shown in the atmosphere of liveliness and vigour at Corn Street, which starts at the very top . . . As we write we keep wondering how long the snow sticks on the roof. . . Not long, we think, with all that energy below - unless the insulation is very good: in which case nobody will be fooled except our competitors”.  Well, there you are! We saw this coming five years ago— not just the need for more elbow room but all the indications that our South Western District would continue to flourish.

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Everything written about it in these pages during the past five years has confirmed this, and now District Office has had to find a new home, leaving No. 47 to provide more breathing space for the expand­ing Bristol City Office and the Trustee and Tax departments.  No. 48 stands next to the Corn Exchange just across the street on a narrow site of great depth, outwardly a beautiful Georgian structure but inwardly…  just a minute now!  New premises should, ideally, be big enough to allow for expansion ten or even twenty years ahead: in design and architecture the same intelligent guesswork is required. One can estimate growth with reasonable accuracy 'other things being equal', and the new office has been taken and planned accordingly.

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1968 SWDO Main Office MBM-Sp68P11.jpg

1968 SWDO Board Room and GM Office MBM-Sp68P11.jpg

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But how can one plan or even guess in matters of design where tastes, fashions and personal preferences can change almost as quickly as a government's policies?  We are almost prepared to lay a prudent 6 to 4 that in ten years' time most of No. 48 will be in fashion and of those parts that are not people will be saying 'What a pity we don't see that sort of thing in today's buildings'.  Being narrow-waisted, the building presented a problem at the start and so from the entrance one must go right, left or upwards.   On the right are the glass-enclosed rooms of the Superintendent and the Inspectors with loads of space for a waiting room, the 'desk men' and the typists. To the left of the entrance lie Reception, Interview, Staff, Visiting Inspectors and Premises, all these rooms and the connecting passage at the back being carpeted in a highly original blue-green hog's hair on blubber which, with occasional dampening, retains its spring indefinitely.  The lift and the staircase wrapped round it take one to the District General Management suite on the first floor, Mr Clarkson's room being combined ingeniously with the Board Room.

 

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1968 SWDO Assistant DM Room MBM-Sp68P11.jpg

1968 SWDO Dining Room MBM-Sp68P11.jpg

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There have been suggestions that this room may be too sombre even in daylight, yet most of the 150 guests at the reception on the evening of January 23 persisted in crowding in and staying there despite the seemingly limitless space elsewhere. To the observer that might be puzzling, but there are more things in design and architecture than are dreamed of in the minds of mere businessmen and one of these things is that one should not be consciously aware of one's surroundings. Perhaps John Crowther, the Truro architect, was secretly delighted to see this proved so convincingly. In contrast there is the lightness and warmth of the almost Western Desert tone of Mr Milburn's room across the building—a room which at first surprised one but quickly attracted much favourable comment.  On the second floor, to the front of the building, is the management dining room with an attractive ante-room lit from what we fondly, if irreverently, term 'tiddler cans'. The dining room, panelled in the knotted pine of No. 47, is a delight and Mrs Bryant's culinary kingdom which adjoins it is a model of efficient modernity.  At the back of the building, still on the second floor, is an unoccupied room of the same dimensions as Mr Milburn’s beneath it. Since nobody named Parkinson has commanded the District his Law will not affect that vacant space. So far as is known there is no Clarkson’s Law but we suggest that it might well be ‘Time, money and staff put to the best use bring their own reward’, simply because that is the unwritten law by which the Board, the management and the staff have brought this District to its present eminence.

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Members of the Board

SGPBOARD

1960 Mr G E McWatters Chairman MBM-Sp60P30.jpg

1960 Viscount Cilcennin Director MBM-Sp60P30.jpg

1961 Colonel C G Traherne TD LL Board Member MBM-Sp61P04.jpg

1961 Colonel W Q Roberts CBE DSO MVO TD ADC DL AND Board Member MBM-Sp61P04.jpg

1961 The Honourable M J Lambert Board Member MBM-Sp61P05.jpg

1966 Admiral Sir Deric Holland-Martin Director MBM-Su66P02.jpg

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Mr G E McWatters

Chairman of the Board

1960

Viscount Cilcennin

Director

1960

Colonel G C Trehearne

TD LL

Director 1961

Colonel W Q Roberts CBE DSO MVO TD ADC DL

Director 1961

The Hon. M J Lambert

Director

1966

Admiral Sir Deric

Holland-Martin

Director 1966

Staff Gallery (Plain)

DISTRICT OFFICE – GENERAL STAFF

SUPERINTENDENT OF BRANCHES

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1967 Miss J Hetherington MBM-Au67P46.jpg

1968 Mr D Parker SWDO Staff MBM-Su68P47.jpg

1968 Mr T E Bond (role unknown) MBM-Sp68P02.jpg

1960 Mr D E Brewis South Western District Superintendent of Branches MBM-Su60P06.jpg

1967 Mr JK Cornall Superintendent of Branches SWD MBM-Au67P04.jpg

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Miss J Hetherington

SWDO Staff

1967

Mr D Parker

SWDO Staff

1968

Mr T E Bond

SWDO Staff

1968

Mr D E Brewis

South Western District

Superintendent of Branches

1960

Mr J K Cornall

South Western District

Superintendent of Branches

1967

 

DISTRICT GENERAL MANAGER’S DEPARTMENT

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1960 Mr G E Clarkson SW District General Manager MBM-Su60P04.jpg

1965 Mr DE Brewis Assistant District Manager MBM-Sp65P03.jpg

1967 Mr AE Milburn Asst District Manager SWD MBM-Au67P03.jpg

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BW Logo

BW Logo

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Mr G E Clarkson

SW District General Manager

1960 onwards

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Mr D E Brewis

Assistant District Manager

1965

Mr A E Milburn

Assistant  District Manager

1967

 

 

 

INSPECTORS

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1960 Mr C A Brockbank Inspector MBM-Su60P07.jpg

1964 Mr E Russell Inspector SW District MBM-Su64P04.jpg

1964 Mr F Pickup Visiting Inspector SW District MBM-Sp64P24.jpg

1965 Mr FJ Lyons Inspector South West District Office MBM-Au65P05.jpg

1967 Mr JP Smith Inspector SWDO MBM-Su67P03.jpg

1968 Mr JW Burnside inspector MBM-Au68P06.jpg

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Mr C A Brockbank

Inspector

1960

Mr E Russell

Inspector

1964

Mr F Pickup

Inspector

1964

Mr F J Lyons

Inspector

1965

Mr J P Smith

Inspector

1967

Mr J W Burnside

Inspector

1968

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Information (Plain)

Title:

Address:

Index Number and District:

Telephone:

District General Manager:

Assistant District Manager:

Martins Bank Limited South Western District Office

PO Box 6 47 Corn Street Bristol 1

190 South Western

Bristol 294781/8

Mr G E Clarkson

Mr A E Milburn (1967)

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History (Plain)

1960

23 January 1968

15 December 1969

?

Currently

Opened by Martins Bank Limited at 47 Corn Street

Opened in new premises at 48 Corn Street

Barclays Bank Limited

Closed

Let as office space to various enterprises

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