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Martins Bank 1928+

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image056In 1955 Martins Bank continues its expansion Southwards, with a total of six new branches opened:  London Garrick Street, Guernsey, Kidderminster, Newton Abbot, London Tottenham Court Road, and Salisbury.  The aim is to have at least one branch in every major town and city in England and Wales, and with the exception of East Anglia, this target is broadly reached by the time of the 1969 merger with Barclays.  Kidderminster has a visit from Martins Bank Magazine in 1957 about which you can read further down this page, but we also have some other titbits to bring you from the pages of the Magazine…

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Branch Exterior and Flooding 1960 MBM-Sp60P52

Image © 1960 Wolverhampton Press and Star as printed in Martins Bank Magazine

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In a moment a member of the Kidderminster staff has a starring role on the mighty ATV, a television company that is barely five years old in 1960, but under the Grade brothers destined to become a worldwide success.  First of all Kidderminster branch is featured in Martins Bank Magazine in 1960 for an altogether different reason from the usual branch visit - which explains the picture above - the River Stour has burst its banks, and deposited a great deal of water in Martins Bank.

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Row-In Bank

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1960 01 MBM.jpgTowards the end of January the River Stour overflowed its banks and flooded parts of Kidderminster. Local flooding is caused owing to the fact that when the River Severn is full it cannot take away the water from the Stour. There is a warning system in operation and a siren sounds in the town when the level of water reaches 105.5 ft. (measured in feet above sea level). The town is flooded when the level reaches 107 feet. The first intimation our Manager, Mr. K. S. Peal, had of the situation was a telephone call from the local police at 6.05 a.m. on Monday, January 25th. This warning gave sufficient time for the staff to get to the office and empty the basement and safe of all contents. The bank opened as usual at 10 a.m. with water just beginning to appear in Vicar Street. The River Stour runs at the back of the shops opposite to the bank and the first flooding appears through those shops and a cinema. Amazingly enough, during the first hour of business the branch was very busy, but as the water rose steadily, it was impossible to reach the branch except by boat and no customers risked the journey after 11.30 a.m.  Water kept out of the basement until 3.45 p.m., but as the level rose to within one inch of the front door step, it was too much to hope for that our branch could continue to act like King Canute and a cascade of water entered the basement from 4 o'clock onwards until the evening. We would like to mention particularly the work of the staff in clearing up on the following day. The Fire Brigade's pipes took some of the water away, but the staff removed 600 gallons of water by means of dustpans and buckets, each bucket being carried up the stairs and emptied into the drains. In addition, all the branch records were carried to and from the basement on numerous occasions during the week without complaint.


A further warning occurred at 5 p.m. three days later, on Thursday afternoon, which neces­sitated attendance at the branch until 4.45 a.m. on Friday, but on this occasion no flooding of the branch occurred. We are informed, however, that this sort of thing could well become more frequent now as local farmers and carpet manufacturers have over the years built high walls to keep out the flood water. This has resulted in a re-channelling to other areas in one of which is situated the branch. Incidents arising out of this disconcerting event which stand out in the memory of our staff are as follows :


·         The arrival of a gentleman by pickaback in order to open a new account!

·         The trusting nature of a customer who handed a case unlocked and containing more than £2,000 to a complete stranger who possessed Wellington boots and was therefore able to navigate the deep water to the bank.

·         The elderly lady who came to enquire whether her money would be safe or whether she ought to take it home with her.

·         The young customer who enjoyed the boat ride so much that she paid into the bank again later in the day !

·         The only means of reaching the Post Office was for the junior to stand on the front doorstep and shout "Skylark" to the boatman at the end of the road,

·         The insistence of several customers on being called—if necessary from their beds—in the event of further flooding, so that they could assist.

·         Owing to the shortage of sandbags in the town, the staff improvised by filling cloth coin bags.  Subsequently the local newspaper telephoned to enquire whether it was "really money on your doorstep". Later a youth was caught trying to steal a bag after wading through water above the level of his Wellington boots.

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A Midland Montage…

1960 Miss Iris Mason on ATV Midlands Montage MBM-Au60P43.jpgSep 1.jpg

1960 03 MBM.jpgMiss Iris Mason, who is a cashier at our Kidderminster branch, with Mr. Leslie Dunne of A.T.V. Midland Montage. Miss Mason was selected earlier in the year as the Queen of Kidderminster and Stourport in a local contest of which Mr. Dunne was one of the judges. She has since been invited to appear on the television programme "Rainbow Room" and has received the further honour of being adjudged Stourport's 1960 Carnival Queen. One of the judges was Miss Olive Carpenter, a former Miss Great Britain.


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1957 02 MBM.jpgKIDDERMINSTER = carpets; the association is inescapable. We did not have time, unfortunately, during the course of our visit on April 25th to visit a carpet-weaving factory and so did not satisfy our curiosity as to why it is correct to speak of an Axminster but not a Kidder­minster. Furthermore, as Axminster is a particular weave, a carpet so woven in Kidderminster would be an Axminster—very confusing! Brussels and Axminster weaves form a large part of the output. Minus the dirt and the kilns of the pottery towns the concentration of carpet-making factories in main streets and side streets, quite close to the shopping centre, is rather reminiscent of the Five Towns, but much pleasanter. Though a town of some 40,000 inhabitants it seems quite small and in a few minutes one is out into lovely country. On the day of our visit we stepped from the station into gaily bedecked streets and for a fleeting moment thought that Mr. H. E. Williams, our Kidderminster manager, had arranged things in style for our visit.  Then the truth dawned—Her Majesty the Queen had visited the town two days previously.


Mr. and Mrs. Williams were at the station to meet us and we went to their lovely house on the outskirts of the town, on the edge of the golf course and with a view across the countryside such as few suburban dwellers enjoy. After lunch at the Club House we went for a drive round the town and out as far as Bewdley, from which place Stanley Baldwin took his title when created an Earl. On our way we saw the signboard of a local firm of estate agents, and had to look a second time for confirmation of what we saw. “Doolittle and Dalley” was the title of the firm and it reminded us of our visit to Bradford last year when we noted the “Idle Working Men's Club”,  (“Idle”,  for the benefit of our Southern readers, being a place near Bradford).


On reaching our branch in Vicar Street we found it quite difficult to understand how it could possibly have been flooded from the Severn two years ago, just as we were about to open.  The branch is very attractively furnished in light walnut panelling and part of the working space is a sun trap on a good day. Mr. Williams entered the Bank in 1925 and served at Liverpool City Office, Exchange, Chief Accountant's Department, Breck Road, Hoylake and on Head Office Relief until war service 1941-1946 took him to Assam and India with the Royal Artillery. After the war he served at Mossley Hill, and then in Liverpool City Office Securities and Victoria Street before his appointment to Worcester with signing authority in 1950. He opened Kidderminster branch in 1955.

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Mr. A. Warren is second-in-command, with a background of training at Skipton (1938), Hanley and Newcastle (Staffs). He very obligingly came in from holiday in order to be in the staff photograph. Mr. A. E. Rose entered the Bank in 1954 at Stourport and was transferred to Kidderminster last year. Miss P. Harris joined the staff last July and will shortly be the wife of the minister of the local Pentecostal Church. On relief on the day of our visit was Mr. W. P. S. Lucas, from Birmingham, whose appearance in no fewer than three photographs in our spring issue was the subject of some caustic comment in Birmingham. Mrs. Williams, too, is bound to the Bank with especially close ties for she served on the staff in the Liverpool District, at Liscard and elsewhere during the Second World War. Our visit was all too brief, but every moment was enjoyed to the full.

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1956 Mr A E Rose Ltd auth 1967 then Pro Manager from 1969 MBM-Su69P14.jpg

1957 Mr A Warren MBM-Su57P14.jpg

1957 Miss P Harris MBM-Su57P14.jpg

1957 Mr H E Williams Manager MBM-Su57P14.jpg

1957 Mr W P S Lucas MBM-Su57P14.jpg

1960 Miss Iris Mason Cashier MBM-Au60P43.jpg

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Mr A E Rose

On the Staff  1957

Limited Authority 1967

Pro manager 1969

Mr A Warren

On the Staff


Miss P Harris

On the Staff


Mr H E Williams



Mr W P S Lucas

On the Staff


Miss Iris Mason



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1964 to 1967 Mr P Boulton Limited Authority MBM-Wi67P01.jpg

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Mr P Boulton

Limited Authority

1967 to 1967










Index Number and District:






11-12-50 Kidderminster

Full Branch

7 Vicar Street Kidderminster Worcestershire

568 Midland

Mon to Fri 1000-1500

Saturday 0900-1130

Kidderminster 5838

Nightsafe Installed

Mr J J Buglass Manager



15 December 1969

11 April 1975


opened by Martins Bank Limited

Barclays Bank Limited 20-46-07 Kidderminster Vicar Street


Wholesale/Retail Food Company