The restaurant at the top of the World…

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1959 Head Office Dining Room at Christmas MBII-OppP32.jpgThis is the Staff Restaurant on the eighth floor at Head Office, laid out for Christmas Dinner, 1959. On the same floor are the Board Room, and the Directors’ Dining Rooms, which have their own separate waiting staff and mini kitchen.  Sadly part of this original dining room was damaged by fire in the early part of the Twenty-First Century.


The views across the City of Liverpool are, from this height, quite stunning. – in the directors’ Dining Room each window has a panoramic photograph showing the Liverpool Skyline. 


Each photo is taken ten or more years after the last, and this tradition is continued by Barclays, therefore creating a unique record of the changing face of the City. All in all, this is a reminder to the Staff of Martins that their Bank is a major player – the largest of the “Small Six” banks, AND flying in the face of tradition, based far away from the financial capital of London, and proud of it!  If that doesn’t help your dinner go down nicely, nothing else will…

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2013 MAY 14 Liverpool Vista 4 from Directors' Dining Room MS-BGA

The Liverpool Skyline from the eighth floor Directors’ Dining Room at Head Office 1951

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2013 MAY 14 Liverpool Vista 1968 from Directors' Diing Room CU MS-BGA

The Liverpool Skyline from the eighth floor Directors’ Dining Room at Head Office 1968

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2013 MAY 14 Directors' Dining Room 1 MS-BGA


The Directors’ Dining Room, May 2013.  The open door at the end of the room leads to a small kitchen. This room doubled as the hotel suite of the character “Frau Bellinghausen” in the BBC TV Production “Close to the Enemy” 2016.



Two of the Panoramas, showing the Liverpool Skyline as it was in 1951 and then 1968, by which time

“St John’s Beacon” known now as the Radio City Tower had been constructed.


With special thanks

for these images, to

Maria Sienkiewicz,

Barclays Group Archivist.


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Martins Bank’s Staff Association negotiates with the Bank for various staff benefits and contractural agreements. This is the closest that our Staff will get to having their own Trades Union. MBSA will eventually merge with Barclays own Staff Association, which in turn gets together with the Lloyds and NatWest Associations in the 1980s. 

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1964 Inside Information - MBSA FC MBA.jpg

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In its 1966 Handbook “Inside Information”, Martins Bank Staff Association publishes everything an employee might need to know about working for Martins Bank, from the binding “Service Agreement”, to overtime rates, Saturday Morning Leave and cheap membership of the RAC. 

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By 1966, the provision of Staff restaurant Facilites has extended to many different parts of the Country. This picture shows (right) the Staff Dining Room at our London 80 Gracechurch Street Office. Thirty-three years after the first major dining room opens at Head Office, there are 12 regional Staff Restaurants and the expectation of more.  The Staff Association is keen to obtain the Bank’s Assurance that wherever possible, more staff Restaurants will be opened.  Whilst the big cities are favoured with the provision of a subsidised mid-day meal, the provinces are not so lucky, with Northern and Craven Districts missing out altogether.  The whole question of staff lunches is covered by the following three short extracts from MBSA’s “Inside Information”…

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Restaurant Facilities for the staff are available at the following locations:


Head Office

Heywoods Branch Liverpool

Lombard Street London

Gracechurch Street London

Oxford Circus Branch London

Manchester City Office

Manchester Brown Street

Bristol City Office

Birmingham City Office

Newcastle City Office

Leeds City Office



Meals in these restaurants are served at reasonable prices and are available to all members of the staff in the vicinity.  The Bank has promised the Staff Association that these facilities will be extended to other centres where there are adequate concentrations of staff as and when premises can be found.




Members of the relief staff when away from their normal headquarters may claim for luncheon expenses in cases where it is impossible to reach one of the Staff Canteens.  The sum of 5s. 6d. per day, free of tax, is allowed.




Following negotiations with the Bank, it has been agreed that an allowance of 7s. 6d. per day shall be paid to those members of staff of small Branches who are unable to leave the premises at lunch time.  This allowance is paid subject to Income tax which is deducted under P.A.Y.E.

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At your service…

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So much for the 1960s and the power of industrial relations versus a square meal, we must go a little further back to find the heyday of Martins Bank’s provision of food for the masses.  Running a number of very large offices in major cities is hungry work, and Martins looks after its staff by providing restaurant facilities from 1933 onwards.  The story of staff catering is told in the following articles from Martins Bank Magazine from 1958 and 1965.  These are the days when one has “luncheon” and what is on offer at our staff restaurants in Liverpool London Manchester Leeds Birmingham and Newcastle is, thankfully,  a far cry from the withered sandwiches and cold coffee consumed at many a “workstation” in the twenty-first century. One thing that probably has not changed all that much is the segregation of “workers” and “management” into separate dining areas – how the other half lives!  Watch out too, for a list of girls’ names that also tells its own story about the time period from which these stories come. What really stands out from the articles below, is the sheer numbers of staff required up and down the land to feed our hungry bank clerks, and some of the food quantity statistics are also quite breathtaking… 

…our Staff Restaurants

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Head Office Restaurant Staff

Left to right: Ursula, Sylvia, Daisy, Ann, Hilda Crawford,

Hilda Thomas, Carrie, Mary, May, Betty, Rene, Ada.

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1958 01 MBM.jpgIt is now some twenty-five years since we first started the job of pro­viding mid-day meals for the staffs in the big cities where we have great concentrations of people. Liverpool and London were first on the list and today there are luncheon facilities in Liverpool, London, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle upon Tyne and Birmingham. In the new Head Office building a kitchen was built on the eighth floor, equipped to cater for 90 persons in 1932. Last October it had to be planned to deal with the daily provision of an average of 430 meals for the staff and 36 on the Management side. Members of the staff of the city branches are included in these arrangements; as also is the Messenger staff of Head Office and the city branches.  The Messenger staff requirements are approximately 40 meals per day. In addition to the mid-day meal a service for morning coffee and afternoon tea is provided. Coffee is served between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., tea between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.

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Scene in the Head Office kitchen as the waitresses line up to collect the main dish…

About 250 members of the staff avail themselves of these facilities. The first lunch is served at 11.50 a.m., the second at 12.25 p.m. and the third at 1 p.m. These arrangements necessitate a pretty tight schedule, and the preparation of the meal involves a lot of careful planning, as the menu comprises a choice of one of four dishes - two meat, one fish and a snack on toast, a choice of vegetables and creamed or chipped potatoes, a choice of sweets or cheese and biscuits, and tea or coffee. The quantities involved are interesting and give a good idea of the task of preparation - 3 cwt. of potatoes daily, 80 Ibs. of meat for roasting on the roast meat day and 75 Ibs. of fish every Friday. For the special Christ­mas lunch 260 Ibs. of turkey are required, while the Christmas puddings are "home-made."The Staff Restaurant is served by seven wait­resses with the assistance of part-time helpers and, of course, washers-up. Five waitresses serve the three Management dining rooms.

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So far as the actual cooking is con­cerned, Mrs. Lily Murray is now Head Cook and is responsible for the Directors' haute cuisine with the assistance of Mrs. Burns. She joined the staff in 1934 as a waitress but was quickly transferred to the kitchen. The Staff Restaurant Supervisor is Miss Caroline Knott. She joined the staff in 1933 and rose to be head waitress. On the retirement of Mrs. Cooper four years ago, she was appointed Supervisor. Cooking for the Staff Restaurant is chiefly under the control of Mrs. Cartwright with a staff of five women.There is also a storekeeper, two part-timers to look after the coffee and one to wash up the silver. The manageress of the entire restaurant, dining rooms and kitchens is Mrs. Hamilton, who, in addition to her supervisory duties, is responsible for the planning of the meals, the buying and the book-keeping.

1958 Head office Restaurant 4 Water St Kitchen Staff MBM-Sp1958P30.jpg


Head Office kitchen staff:

Left to right: Lily Murray (Head Cook), Winnie,

 Ann, May, Beattie, Alice, Gladys, Joan

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1958 Head office Restaurant 4 Water St Management Waitresses MBM-Sp1958P30.jpg

Head Office Management Waitresses

Betty, Jean, Irene (Head Waitress), Mary, Sheila

She came to us in 1951 following the marriage of her predecessor, Miss Johnson.The feeding of over 400 people, day in and day out, is no sinecure: some 130,000 meals a year is quite an impressive total and no more eloquent tribute to her for the way in which she discharges her onerous duties can be paid than by pointing to the fact that the restaurant is full to overflowing and the facilities available are being taxed to the utmost.Nor should it be forgotten that catering arrange­ments are often and most willingly made for various social gatherings of the Bank - the quarterly pensioners' reunions, meetings of the Society of the Arts and for those many little celebrations when girls leave to get married or when men retire.  The service of Mrs. Murray and Miss Caroline Knott is deserving of special mention: they have been with us since the beginning and almost a quarter of a century of good and faith­ful service deserves to be placed on record.

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Mrs Hamilton

Head Office Catering Manageress 1951 to 1962

In the Manchester District the pattern is quite different, and the catering arrangements are divided into several parts.So far as Spring Gardens is con­cerned, lunch facilities have been provided since 1945 but only the girls are served with a full lunch, about 56 being catered for daily. The men can obtain sand­wiches but if they want a full lunch they can take ad­vantage of the catering arrangements at the Institute of Bankers nearby, which caters for the male staffs of all the banks. The female staffs of neighbouring branches are eligible to partake of the arrangements at Spring Gardens and morning coffee and afternoon tea are served to both men and women, and so far as the Messenger staff is concerned a full lunch is provided by the Girls' Canteen. About 130 coffees and over 100 teas are served daily. 

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Miss Carrie Knott

Head Office Assistant Catering Manageress

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The Men's Canteen, with its own small kitchen, is on a different floor. Both are of the self-service variety and there are no waitresses. Mrs. E. M. Bidwell attends to the requirements of the Men's Canteen. In the Girls' Canteen Mrs. E. Martin is the cook and Mrs. C. Dick the canteen assistant, with Mrs. H. Roberts as part-time assistant. A Staff Canteen Committee is in charge of the catering arrangements.  On the management side, there is also a private Dining Room which caters for the directors, the District General Manager and his colleagues and for visitors. In addition there is the usual service for morning coffee and afternoon tea. Mrs. S. Johnson is the cook and she is in charge of the catering also. Her assistant is Mrs. M. E. Douche and they also do the catering for such functions as the periodic pensioners' meet­ings.

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Manchester District Canteen Staffs


Back Row (left to right): Mrs. E. M. Bidwell (Manchester Men's Canteen),

Mrs. C. Dick (Manchester Girls' Canteen) Mrs. M. J. Whalley (St. Ann's Square),  Mrs. H. Roberts  (Manchester Girls' Canteen), Mrs. W. Whitelegg

(Brown Street).


Front row: Mrs. M. E. Douche, Mrs. S. Johnson (Manchester Management's Dining Room),

Mrs. E. Martin (Manchester Girls' Canteen), Mrs. C. Courcoux (Brown St.)


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Mr. F. Elliott, a messenger at Spring Gardens, also acts as waiter. Special mention should be made of Mrs. Johnson who has been at Spring Gardens for over twenty years, a long record of faithful and most exemplary service. Separate catering arrangements also exist at Brown Street and St. Ann's Square. At the Brown Street canteen an average of 34 meals are served daily, both men and girls being included in the arrangements. In addition, morning coffee and afternoon tea are available, and the Messenger staff, too, are included, also Trustee Department, but not the Management. The canteen in its present form has been in operation since 1942. Mrs. G. Courcoux is the cook and she is assisted by Mrs. A. Whitelegg, supervised by Miss N. Adams. At St. Ann's Square up to a maximum of 26 meals are served daily, both men and girls being included in the arrangements, and, within limits, the staffs of nearby branches.

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As usual, morn­ing coffee and afternoon tea are served and the Messenger staff is included. Mrs. M. J. Whalley is the cook and the catering arrange­ments are supervised by Miss C. Rastrick: there are no waitresses. The catering arrangements were first started in 1948, but the Management are not included in them.


In Leeds, canteen arrangements are in operation at Park Row and an average of 36 meals per day are now served, including the staffs of neighbouring branches and the Messenger staff. Morning coffee and afternoon tea are also served.


In addition, the Management, visitors and Directors are catered for in the Management Dining Room. There are two waitresses and there is a kitchen staff of two which includes the Manageress, Mrs. E. Gibson, who is in charge of the catering.

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The Leeds Catering Staff Left to right: Phyllis, Evelyn (Mrs Gibson), Mary and Ethel

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1958 Newcastle Upon Tyne Catering Staff MBM-Sp58P32.jpg

The Newcastle upon Tyne Catering Staff (they even have their own food mixer!)

Left to right: Mrs Ashby, Madge, Mr Lancaster, Cook (Mrs O Cairns), Mary and

Mrs Crow. Mrs Barker, the remaining member was unfortunately absent through illness when the photograph was taken.


In Newcastle upon Tyne an average of 100 meals are served every day at 22, Grey Street, and here again both men and girls are included in the arrangements, also the staffs of neigh­bouring branches and the Messenger staff. Morning coffee and afternoon tea are also served.


On the Management side, the Managers' dining room caters for the Management plus any invited guests and the members of the North-Eastern Board of Directors. Mr. F. Thompson, of North-Eastern Premises Department, holds the job of Messing Officer and the ordering is done by the caretaker, Mr. L. Lancaster.

The kitchen staff totals four, which includes the cook, Mrs. O. Cairns, and there are two waitresses.In the near future, reference will be made on this page to our catering staffs in London and Birmingham, but from what has been said it will be obvious that a large and important contribution to the daily comfort and well-being of a great many members of our staff is made by the people whose photo­graphs appear in connection with this article. Most of them come into the limelight very little or not at all and this is our opportunity to pay our tribute to them and to say " thank you " for a good job well done.

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The New Staff

1965 Main dining area (1) New Staff Restaurant Above Liverpool Heywoods Branch MBM-Su65P24.jpg

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1965 Main dining area (2) New Staff Restaurant Above Liverpool Heywoods Branch MBM-Su65P24.jpg

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Restaurant in Liverpool

Above: Two views of the main restaurant. Table tops are of melamine in a dark timber finish with chairs in black. Dark magenta cur­tains offset the grey and white of ceiling and walls, the flooring tiles being blue and off-white.

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1965 02 MBM.jpg The new restaurant opened on March 2nd in the 167-year-old former bank house above Heywoods branch. It seats 130 people—against 108 in the old Head Office restaurant which continues to provide coffees and teas—but can take up to 160 if required. Nearly 500 meals are now served daily in the main restaurant, senior staff dining room, messengers' and catering staffs' rooms. The restaurant premises, which also include kitchen, storerooms, utility room and an office for the Manageress, occupy two floors and were designed entirely by Mr D. D. J. Silcock (Staff Architect) and Head Office Premises Department.

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1965 Coffee Lounge Avobe Heywoods MBM-Su65P25.jpg

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Left: The senior staff dining room on the second floor preserves the character of this 85-year-old room and now has a carpeted lounge area,  with curtains in kingfisher blue, a green and orange mixture carpet, mustard coloured doors, pale grey walls and a white ceiling.


Right: The coffee lounge adjoining the main restaurant on the first floor, with seating for 42 and a counter for serving coffee, tea and soft drinks. The original ceiling mouldings have been retained and the predominant colours in the furnishings and decorations are green and rust.

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A minimum of structural alteration has retained much of the former Exchange Club atmosphere in a brighter and more spacious setting. Two goods lifts, seen in the centre of the photograph at bottom right, bring food from the kitchen above to the self-service area which has strip lighting and a ventilation system above the counter as well as shutters which can close the long frontage to the restaurant converting this into a banqueting hall.

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The restaurant staff in the self-service area

Left to right: Mrs F. E. Hamilton (acting manageress), Muriel Alexander,

Mary Lundy, Kathleen Whelan, Marie Moran, Ivy Ball, Selina Brown, Mary White, Clare Finn,

Daisy Taylor, Lily Mordaunt, Winnie Eagles, Bessie Leary.

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Staff Catering Facilities Banner

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