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You can bring an Elephant!

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image078In the summer of 1966, the attention of many in England is drawn towards a certain tournament at a football stadium somewhere in London - but surely by far the most exciting event of those months has to be the arrival of Rufus the Elephant, who appears in our new advertising campaign. The idea that Martins is so laid back that not even an elephant will upset proceedings is an instant winner, and further advertisements featuring a camel and a hippo show that our Bank is happy to keep its tongue firmly in its cheek.  At this point, step in Mr Ian Gibb, who as curator of York’s Flamingo Park Zoo (still loved by many these days as Flamingoland), puts Martins to the test. Ian takes his step-daughter Debbie and a young elephant from the zoo along to our branch at DavyGate in York, where onlookers are delighted, and cashiers are indeed unfazed by the whole incident. But the stunt is not without its hiccups.  Ian has kindly given us the story of that day – it is accompanied here by the original advert…

WHY NOT ALSO VISIT THESE PAGES

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1966 Martins Elephant Ad Retouched.jpg“{I seemed to remember an advert, where the bank said “we don't mind who you bring with you to open an account”.  Emily the elephant was a recent arrival at Flamingo Park and received special care because of her size and age.  As I had experience of rearing elephants, I spent a lot of time with her, so she was easy to handle as she would follow anywhere.

 

A newspaper  photographer, took many pictures at the zoo which was obviously good publicity for us, and had done a series of Debbie with Emily in the zoo. He asked, after seeing the bank advertisement if we could do this. He wanted to do it unannounced to get the bank’s reaction. On the day he had two or three other photographers on hand, in and outside the bank.  We parked the landrover & trailer near the bank and gathered attention from a traffic warden.  At that point a neighbouring shop owner came and offered his yard to park in. 

 

We unloaded Emily and started to walk to the bank, when a security van pulled up, so we retreated to the yard. After that we entered the bank, there was little reaction from the bank staff. The newspaper had provided £2 for Debbie to open the account; the cashier repeated, word for word, the phrase used in the advert. “Who have you brought with you today”. We left the bank with no fuss and loaded Emily into the trailer and then went in the shop who had kindly let us park and had a nice glass of wine as the shop was a wine merchants. (Debbie had a soft drink).   Although no irate manager came rushing out I presume the newspaper smoothed any problem and it also cannot have harmed the Bank. Shortly after, I took up a zoo management post in Canada}”.

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In November 2009 a group of performing arts students decided to take Martins at their word, inspired by the events of 1966 to re-create them.

Our thanks go to Colin Eccleston and his fellow students who took over 4 Water St for a day to pay homage to the original idea that Martins Staff are so helpful and laid back, that not even an elephant would faze them.  In these five images, someone plays the part of a bemused bank messenger, and the “elephant”, expertly realised by the student group, poses for the camera at various points within the iconic banking hall at Head Office.

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Elephant at Water Street 5

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Elephant at Water Street 2

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Elephant at Water Street 3

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Bear faced cheek

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Once upon a time, that most famous magician (and all round good bear) Sooty, went to Martins Bank GUISELEY in the faraway land of Craven, to cash his first cheque AND meet his first bank manager, Mr Jack Hardcastle. Sooty’s companion, that nice Mr Corbett, kindly gave him a hand up, so to speak, and try as we might we can’t spot sooty’s noisy friend Sweep, anywhere

1958 Sooty visits his Bank Manager! (Guiseley Branch) MBMSu58P36.jpg

1958 Sooty cashes his first cheque! (Guiseley Branch) MBM-Su58P36.jpg

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It seems, dear reader, that Sooty’s attachment to Martins Bank is indeed very strong, for here he is again with his friend Mr Corbett, and his nice NEW Bank Manager at Guiseley - Mr Ken Baxter, on the occasion of Sooty’s coming of age.  Martins really DO go to extremes to be helpful, especially to small bears!

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Sooty’s twenty-first birthday – Image © David Baxter 1969

All along the watchtower…

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The psychedelic sixties leave their mark on Martins Bank, when it falls to our LONDON 79 EDGWARE ROAD BRANCH to look after the affairs of one Jimi Hendrix…

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… and a sure sign that our Bank is “with it” is this flower-power cheque book cover.  We don’t know if these were issued with a pair of anti-glare specs, perhaps they were only given to those wearing the COOLEST sun shades. Like, er, crazy man!

Tiger, Tiger, sitting tight…

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Ranee the Tiger.jpgMartins seems to have a certain animal attraction. It might be, that some of the real life cases of customers visiting branches unable to be parted from their animal charges was at the back of the minds of the staff of Advertising Department when they commissioned a number of newspaper adverts in the mid 1960s.  This is one of the earliest recorded cases of wildlife in the banking hall, taking place in 1956, RANEE the tigress accompanies her owner Mr James Walton.  Rather oddly – and perhaps this is a disturbing thought to a big cat – Mr Walton is actually a BUTCHER (look out, Ranee!) and a farmer. 

 

Staff at CHESTER LE STREET branch think nothing of their office being visited by both tigress and Mr Walton.  When interviewed, he commented:

 

“It has long been a common thing for me to enter the Bank at Chester Le Street accompanied by a lion or a leopard and none of the cashiers was alarmed if either placed its paws on the counter while they checked cash” 

 

We bet you never knew that tigers lions and leopards could check cash, now did you?

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With Mabel, at the table…

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Cashing a cheque must be all the rage when you’re famous, and at LONDON WIGMORE STREET the BBC’s Wartime favourites Wilfred Pickles and his wife Mabel ‘have a go’ too. There is no sign of Violet Carson on the piano, but perhaps she is just out of shot.

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Whether or not Martins Bank Magazine uses photos such as these to inspire pride amongst the staff that their Bank is home to the rich and famous, isn’t clear.  Decades on, we are glad they were printed, as they prove that ephemeral celebrity is not just a modern phenomenon…

 

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1960 Wilfred and Mabel Pickles cashing a cheque MBM-Wi60P39

Modelling with Clay

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Still some years off from being known as Muhammed Ali, Casius Clay meets Mr D G Harris, the manager of our GOLDERS GREEN branch.  The occasion is the only function attended in England in 1966 by Mr Clay, and is a reception and dinner given in his honour by the Pakistani Community of London. In the picture, Mr Harris looks as if he might enjoy a good few rounds of boxing, himself…

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1966 Mr DG Harris Manager Meets Casius Clay (Daily Express) MBM-Au66P46

Kitten on the Keys…

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In 1949 this lovable moggy was often found waiting on the steps of our branch at ALSTON, Cumberland. When the doors were opened for business, the cat would slip into the branch, make its way to the typewriter, in front of which it would seat itself as shown.  The furry friend would then tap on the space bar until the bell rang, and then look up waiting for someone to return the carriage, so that the operation could be repeated!

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A Royal walkabout…

1968 - Princess Alexandra, who becomes the first and the longest serving Chancellor of LANCASTER UNIVERSITY, admires our new branch building there, which is situated in the appropriately named Alexandra Square.

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1968 LU Exterior Tour by Princess Alexandra July MBM-Au68P44

How tickled they are, missus, what a beautiful day!  

 

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1960 - King Doddy of Knotty Ash wows them all with the size of his cheque book at our TORQUAY branch. Used to touring the land with his wonderful brand of humour and music, Doddy is an instant favourite wherever he goes…

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Ken Dodd Visits new branch at Blackpool 1964 MBM-Au64P13

 

Ken Dodd Visits new branch at Blackpool 1964 MBM-Au64P13

 

On to 1964, and next stop - the North West  - where Doddy also opens an account under the gaze of the cameras, this time at LEWIS’S BANK, in Blackpool!  Our Bank is used to helping celebrities make the most of their money, and it sounds like Mr Doddy could do with some common sense Martinplanning, several years before it is actually invented…

 

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LIMELIGHT-06/05/2009-21:35

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