Harry Rutherford's
Festival of Britain Mural

Friday, 19 October 2012

Martins Bank, Hyde

Martins Bank Limited was a Liverpool-based British financial services company that was taken over by Barclays Bank in 1969. The company has its origins in the 16th century and was said to have been founded by Sir Thomas Gresham , who began trading in Lombard Street under the sign of a grasshopper. After the Second World War it was the first bank to enter into partnership with a major retailer, opening banking concessions inside branches of the Lewis's department store chain.

Image © Barclays Ref 30/1399 Courtesy Martins Bank Archive.
Martins Bank Hyde Branch  which was situated on Market Street.


The bank was bought by Barclays Bank in 1969, when all of its seven hundred branches became branches of Barclays. Around 30 branches closed immediately, and ten were downgraded to sub-branches. Some, such as the sub-branch at Eaton, Norwich, Norfolk were brand new and handed over to Barclays on the day appointed by Act of Parliament for the merger of the two banks, 15 December 1969. The Martins grasshopper logo was retained for part of the combined business until the early 1980s, with "Martins Branch" and a small grasshopper appearing first on both statements and cheque books, later cheques only (see the Martins Bank Archive Project link below). Martins numbered among its customers a football pools company, a major airline and a world renowned shipping line. When these customers wanted to borrow large sums, Martins was known to have borrowed from other banks on a number of occasions to fulfil these requests. Even so, many who worked for the bank believed that Martins could have survived on its own, as at the time of takeover it was expanding its UK banking operation, and continuing a run of "firsts" which included:
  • First in the north of England with a cash machine in 1967
  • First with mobile banks to provide banking to remote areas
  • First with a drive-through bank in Leicester in 1959 and Epsom in 1966
  • First and only English bank to have a head office outside London
  • First to recognise and embrace the swinging 60s in its advertising
  • First to experiment with and then use a computer to operate current-account business
  • First with a branch on the centre court at Wimbledon
Women were contractually obliged to leave the bank upon marriage, and as late as 1965, men were not allowed to get married until their salary reached a prescribed level. Many of Martins' forms, and some procedures, were retained or later adopted by Barclays as being more advanced than their own.

Thanks to Wikipedia

Barclays Bank as it is today.
Thanks to Google maps.


Werneth Low said...

My father had his business account at Martins Bank in Market Street but I seem to remember that originally a much smaller branch stood on the opposite side of the street. Does anyone else remember this, or is it possible to check in a Kelly's Directory of the 50s? Could be my ageing memory up to its tricks again!!

Anonymous said...

Wasn't it the Halifax Building Society which stood just over the road from this bank?

Werneth Low said...

Could have been but I do have this image of Martins on that side, just lower down than Timsons. It might be a trick of the memory!

Anonymous said...

Come to think of it the Halifax was at the very end of the opposite row.

Where the now defunct Waterways bathroom shop is, next to the bus station exit.

Werneth Low said...

I have a photo of the old bus station which shows Barclays Bank in the block where Shipman's surgery was. The sign is at the top of the building facing the bus station. I'm presuming that this was taken while the present Barclays building was still Martins. I have no recollection of the Halifax but that doesn't mean it wasn't there!

we came from said...

Fascinating piece of industrial history - I love these stories of the institutions that so shaped peoples' lives. The loss of these big old regional businesses has had an enormous impact on the country.

Gerald (Hyde DP) said...

I did a post about this on Old Hyde in July. The temporary bank was housed in what is now Harrson's shop. Note the top image is © Barclays - I got permission to use it via the Martin's Bank Archive.

Hyde Lad said...

Martin's Bank address was 36-38 Market Street from around 1925 to around 1976, the site was previously occupied by the Lancashire & Yorkshire Bank from around 1914.
The Halifax B.S were at 19 Market St, and Barclay's next door at No 17 in 1976

Anonymous said...

@ Hyde Lad Thanks for that info' that's cleared it up.

Barclay's was at the bottom of the row, next to the Bus Station exit, THEN it was Halifax, the next one up.

Also, the photo of Martin's Bank has brought back to me something my mother told me when I was a child.
I'm not sure if it's correct but she told me, the reason a lot of banks are on corners is that they are harder to rob (!?)

Hydonian said...

Thanks Gerald. I wasnt aware it was copywrited as it was sent in to us.
Amended it now :)

Werneth Low said...

Thanls to everyone for helpful comments here.

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Anonymous said...

I really love this site, it fascinates me a lot. I'm only 22 and love looking at the old pics and learning more about old hyde and peoples memories of hyde. My mum, grandad and grandma are from hyde. They used to live on jackson street, then tom shepley street. It brings back a lot of memories for me as I remember when I was younger, every saturday me, my mum and 2 brothers would go down hyde, call in the old market hall where Home Bargains is. We would then go to Martins Shop, also knows as "Kiosk", near the old bus station, and then go to our grandmas for the day. Oh, what memories! :)