<,The rebuilding of 68 Lombard Street

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1870 circa 68 Lombard Street  BGA Ref 9-617.jpg

1930 or earlier 68 Lombard St Ext BGA No Ref.jpg

68 Lombard Street in the late 1800s…

… and again around 1930 just before the rebuild

Images © Barclays

“Sally forth into the streets”!

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It’s 1931 and the Building at 68 Lombard Street is proving too small for purpose It is time for the Bank to think of something radical.  Considering that banking has taken place on this site since 1563 it seems fitting that the space should be developed to fit the changing needs of banking.  An attractive design is chosen, and space created over several floors to house Martins’ Principal London Office.   The rebuilding of 68 Lombard Street features in the 11 March 1931 edition of The Architects’ Journal.  Thanks to the kind permission of the publisher, the article is featured below, along with some of its accompanying images.

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Sallying forth into the streets, amid the dancing lights and shadows of this populous finan­cial quarter, one cannot fail to experience at the sight of the new {London} headquarters of Martins Bank that affinity of mental excitement which quiet observation can afford : to be enamoured, not only by the sympathetic manner in which Sir Herbert Baker, a.r.a., has preserved the traditions of the famous Grasshopper, but by meditating upon the history of what may well be the oldest banking house in the City of London.

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1931 Main Entrance Door TAJ

1931 Entrance Hall TAJ

1931 Entrance Hall Great War Memorial TAJ

1931 The Management Room TAJ

Main Entrance

Entrance Hall

War Memorial

Manager’s Room

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Tradition tells that Sir Thomas Gresham, a mercer, who founded the Royal Exchange on the north side of Cornhill, carried on a banking business on the site as early as 1563, and from him is derived the sign of the Grass­hopper. Sir Richard Martin, who was Lord Mayor of London in 1588 and Master of the Mint from 1572 until his death in 1617, had, without doubt, frequent transactions with Gresham; and thus began the association of the Martin family with the Grasshopper which has continued to the present day. Owing to the destruction of title deeds in the Great Fire of London and the loss of the remaining early records of the Bank, in 1825, in the fire in the Royal Exchange, it is difficult to trace the occupation of the Grass­hopper during the first half of the seventeenth century.

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1931 Ground Floor Plan TAJ

Ground Floor Plan of the new building

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It is. however, known that subsequent occupants were Edward Backwell, a prominent gold­smith, from 1662 to 1672: and Charles Buncombe and Richard Kent in 1677. about which time the goldsmiths were beginning to do a regular banking business as we know it. In 1686. Richard Smyth became a partner: so, about 1699, did Andrew Stone. About this time, also, Thomas Martin was engaged as clerk and later became a partner. The present chairman of the London board is a representative of the sixth generation of the family whose name is preserved in the title. Memories of these old associations are incorporated in the new building.

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1931 Third and Fourth Floor Plans TAJ

Third and Fourth Floor Plans

 

On the main front are carved the head of a Lombard, or Italian merchant, typifying the chief financial rivalry with the Jews in the fourteenth century, and the coats of arms of the families of Gresham and Martin. Externally the building is of 2-in. Daneshill bricks with Portland stone dressings and a granite plinth. The lower windows are bronze; the upper, double sashed, are of teak. In fancy the ghosts of buried centuries seem to glide to and fro around the site: of Pepys complaining of the transactions of the "Goldsmiths shops" of speculators in the South Sea bubble,  and of Thomas Garraway, who is said to have established here the first tea­house in London.

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The finished building is seen here (ABOVE LEFT) in a publicity photograph which is used extensively during the four centuries of banking celebrations that take place in 1963. A memorial to those members of staff killed in the War Service of their Country is erected in the Banking Hall (BELOW RIGHT) The Bank’s principal London Office can now accommodate with more ease, the many departments and offices that were crammed into the old building. The following advertisements which relate to the rebuilding of 68 Lombard Street, appear alongside the article in The Architects’ Journal in 1931:

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1931 Brookes Ltd Advert in TAJ for 68 Lombard Supplies

1931 Waygood-Otis Lifts Advert in TAJ for 68 Lombard Street

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Image: Martins Bank Archive

Article text, images and advertisements © The Architects’ Journal 1931

 

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