Cocks Biddulph

Situated originally at 43 Charing Cross (which is later redesignated 16 Whitehall by Westminster City Council), steeped in history and home to the bank accounts of many a rich and famous client, Whitehall Cocks Biddulph Branch truly is a gem. With the famous Whitehall theatre next door, who knows what manner of stars, old and new, might have been served at the counter of Whitehall Branch?  In a moment you can read with pride the history of one of Martins Bank’s oldest and most prestigious branches, but firth we will give you an idea of just how close to the pomp and ceremony of our Capital City the Branch is. 


In Service: 1759 to 8 June 1992

Image © Barclays Ref 0030-3191

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Below left, on the 1930. Frith® postcard, you can see the branch in relation to Trafalgar Square.  Next door is the world famous Whitehall Theatre, where Brian Rix staged his celebrated series of five long-running comic plays that came to be known as the “Whitehall Farces”.  There seems to us to be nothing more grand than being able to cash your cheques in the shadow of Nelson’s Column!  2022 saw the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second, and we were delighted to discover in Barclays Group Archives’ collections, this wonderful image (right) of the events of 2 June 1953, with Her Majesty passing Whitehall Branch in the Gold State Coach, pulled by eight magnificant greys.  The image is from a painting of the occasion, which Martins Bank used on its Christmas card for 1953.

Image Martins Bank Archive Collections -  © Frith Ref L1305018 under licence

Image © Barclays Ref 2044-0001


Against the background of such history, we must now consider that in the twenty-first century this wonderful building serves an altogether different type of clientele in its new role as a wine bar...  For our main feature we wind events back to 1966, to celebrate the history of this most distinguished of Martins’ Branches with an article published by Martins Bank Magazine following some internal restructuring of the building.  Look out later too, for a rare glimpse of the staff of Messrs Cocks Biddulph Branch in 1915.

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1947 Cocks Biddulph Exterior MBM-Su47P04.jpg1966 04 MBM.jpgoliver cromwell's pay chest, the leather fire buckets of 1759, and an array of firearms for the defence of earlier generations of bankers are some of the historic items skilfully incorporated in the refurbishing of Cocks Biddulph branch at 16 Whitehall. Some of the office's earlier outlines remain but the wall through which in 1883 a hole was made to give access to a clerks' room in the premises in Spring Gardens at the back, later to provide the partners' room, has been replaced by a glass screen. In the banking hall the gloomy green tiles have gone from the walls and the high ceiling is partly con­cealed by modern strip lighting.

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Cocks BiddulphOn the first floor ultra-modern management rooms have replaced the former board room and the partners' flat. Cocks Biddulph branch has gone attractively modern, but the visitor may wonder what Francis Biddulph or James Cocks would say if they saw the office today, 209 years after they established the business. 'Comely young wenches, forsooth' might, after their initial surprise, be their reaction to the ladies who now comprise two-fifths of the staff. After that they would probably become lost in reverie; they might even wish to call upon their successors to join them in a closer look at the building, the business and the staff.

Image © Martins Bank Archive Collections

And then they might really surprise us, even though we know full well how disconcertingly history manages to repeat itself, for they would certainly tell us that 'hard core' lending is no modern problem.

1966 Cocks Biddulph Banking Hall before alteration MBM-Wi66P23.jpg

Cocks Biddulph Branch before alteration (1)

Image: Martins Bank Archive Collections

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Cocks Biddulph Branch before alteration (2)

Image: Martins Bank Archive Collections

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1951 Drawing of Branch Exterior by FG Lodge published by Martins CBC.jpgIn 1841 the partners faced this same problem and decreed that future advances be 'only for short periods, in no case exceeding six months'. Looking further into the branch they would be pleased to see that the account opened in 1763 for Brasenose College is still there, no longer handwritten but mecha­nised, and that the names of many people they knew as dukes, admirals, judges and bishops are still represented by the present generation on the books of a business which has become largely commercial in nature. Seeing the messenger's flat on the top floor they might be reminded of the faithful caretaker whose manifold duties earned him a pension of £1 a week in 1859 after 48 years' service, and whose successor was dismissed for drunkenness. The partners would find that no staff member now sleeps on the premises, certainly not during the day for the office is much too busy, but in 1823 the clerk who 'slept in' was paid an extra £10 per year. They later had to stamp on a tendency for this to develop into a means of boosting overtime by stipulating one clerk and by announcing an 11 p.m. curfew, since roistering in the city until 12.30 a.m. defeated the object of the scheme.Would the partners also recall how in 1829 the debit balance of Errors in Cash reached the 'enormous sum of £18.10s. 4d.' and was therefore deducted from the “Christmas Money”? And how the staff were later expressly warned against touting among customers to increase this Christmas Money? Thereafter cash errors had to be 'adjusted between the parties concerned', which no doubt put a stop to carefree cashiering.


The partners would probably confirm that the close family ties between the Martins and the Biddulphs played a big part in facilitating the absorption of Cocks Biddulph & Company by the Bank of Liverpool and Martins in 1919, when the pattern of banking was changing and the personal bonds between employer and employee had already weakened. They might like to remind us that even in 1871 there existed in London a floating population of young workers. 'Many resigned after a short period of service' wrote one partner, adding such comments as 'Might have been a good clerk had he been amenable to authority', and 'Civil and willing but incompetent'. There is something familiar there. But did some of these partners of old tend to get out of touch with their staffs? Did they ever try, as the Cocks Biddulph branch management does today, to run a training scheme within their office and to switch people and jobs, not just from necessity but to keep up interest when, as in every large office, much of the work must be routine Did they try to keep all their people in the picture, to explain, to take them into their confidence whenever possible and let them see that someone was interested in them?

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1966 Cocks Biddulph Interior MBM-Sp66P23.jpg

Part of the new layout where space is made to exhibit the treasures of Cocks Biddulph

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Oliver Cromwell’s Pay Chest

Perhaps they did. It would be uncharitable to assume that they did not for they are not here to answer back. Perhaps they would say that things were different, but one might then point out that even today Mr Machell and Mr Butterworth are to some extent cut off in their first-floor offices yet they still know what is happening below and how important it is that those on the ground floor should also know what is happening above. Things were indeed different then. When the business opened in 1757 Trafalgar Square was an open meadow but now the traffic in Whitehall never stops. It seems to increase daily and although it responds to the automated traffic lights it still needs the flexible, understanding, sympathetic hand of a policeman to control it on occasions. Much the same can be said of Cocks Biddulph branch where, despite the modern look, the modern rush and the modern machines, one does not have to look far to find a touch of understanding and humour which keeps the day's work moving.

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Cocks Biddulph & Company staff June 1915

Back row (left to right): A O D J Best

H Montague (housekeeper)

A B Trewinnard A Smith S Smith

 A Henderson Smith H Knightley

Second row: F F A Coles F E Swift

E L Arney S N Home

Foreground: F England E E P Humphreys

In the Machine Room

E A Amiss G W Cramp and V H G Keppey (Messengers)

Miss S M Evans Miss W S Paxton A P Palmer Miss B Onlev

C D Mann Miss A M Howard J G Keedy P A Waters

H C Jack D R Brown Miss M M Wintle Miss S P Ingram

Absent when the photographs were taken: A P Tucker

P M Jones D S Roffey J B Harper A K Fulker J M Hedge

Miss B G Moon Miss T M Thorpe Miss L E Eldridge

Mrs J Poynting Miss K G Jennings

Standing (left to right): R Maynard (Accountant)

G A Kent (Pro Manager)

G F Edwards (Assistant Accountant)

 J C Doerr

Seated: Miss R F Blow W B Butterworth (Deputy Manager)

R A Machell (Manager)

P M M Slatter (Assistant Manager)

Miss J F Arnott

Cocks Biddulph Management

In the Banking Hall

Left to right: P Vince J A B Bannon B G Williams A W Hovle

R D Blackburn E A M Price A T Heath D E Clackson R J Gibbs

D S After A J Duff P D Atkins R F Murray

Seated: Miss S A Edwards Miss G M Grieg

Miss T A Shell Miss AL Seabrock

G B Handford Miss B G Locke Miss A P Turner

Miss B A B Will G Ball

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1906 to 1917 Mr A O D J Best joined the service here MBM-Sp48P08.jpg

1914 to 1947 Mr A B Trewinnard entered here and became pro Manager in 1943 MBM-Wi47P08.jpg

1915 (June) Mr E E P Humphreys MBM-Su65P41

1915 (June) Mr E L Arney MBM-Su65P41






Mr A O D J Best

Joined the Bank Here

1906 to 1917

Mr A Trewhinnard

Joined here 1916-1947

Manager from 1943

Mr A Henderson Smith

On the Staff

June 1915

Mr A Smith

On the Staff

June 1915

Mr E E P Humphreys

On the Staff

June 1915

Mr E L Arney

On the Staff

June 1915






1915 (June) Mr F E Swift MBM-Su65P41

1915 (June) Mr F England MBM-Su65P41

1915 (June) Mr F F A Coles MBM-Su65P41

1915 (June) Mr H Knightley MBM-Su65P41

1915 (June) Mr H Montague Housekeeper MBM-Su65P41

1915 (June) Mr S N Home MBM-Su65P41






Mr F E Swift

On the Staff

June 1915

Mr F England

On the Staff

June 1915

Mr F F Coles

On the Staff

June 1915

Mr H Knightley

On the Staff

June 1915

Mr H Montague


June 1915

Mr S N Home

On the Staff

June 1915

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1915 (June) Mr S Smith MBM-Su65P41

1915 to 1933 Mr F A Stafford joined the bank here MBM-Wi59P53.jpg

1917 Mr H C Mowbray Joined the Bank Here MBM-Wi50P34

1917 to 1948 Mr S C Jackson Principal Income Tax Dept from 1943 MBM-Su61P57.jpg

1919 Mr R E Thorogood joined the bank here MBM-Sp65P54.jpg

1924 to 1931 Mr S G Height MBM-Wi63P07.jpg






Mr S Smith

On the Staff

June 1915

Mr F A Stafford

Joined the Bank Here

1915 to 1933

Mr H C Mowbray

Joined the Bank Here


Mr S C Jackson

Joined here 1917-48

Principal Tax Dept 1943

Mr R E Thorogood

Joined the Bank Here


Mr S G Height

On the Staff

1924 to 1931

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1929 Mr R S King joined the bank here MBM-Sp65P05.jpg

1930 to 1936 Mr F R Ravenshear joined the bank here MBM-Su65P07.jpg

1930 to 1937 Mr A B Chudley joined the bank here MBM-Au67P08.jpg

1931 to 1959 Mr R D Cant Staff Member MBM-Su59P55.jpg

1933 to 1947 Mr J A Jaques MBM-Au65P03.jpg

1936 to 1940 Mr N Mereweather MBM-Wi67P02.jpg






Mr R S King

Joined the Bank Here


Mr F R Ravenhear

Joined the Bank Here

1930 to 1936

Mr A B Chudley

Joined the Bank here

1930 to 1937

Mr R D Cant

On the Staff

1931 to 1959

Mr J A Jaques

On the Staff

1933 to 1947

Mr N Mereweather

On the Staff

1936 to 1940

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1938 to 1948 Mr L E Luchford Accountant then Asst Manager from 1946 MBM-Wi56P46.jpg

1938 to 1956 Mr E S P Watts joined the bank here MBM-Au67P06.jpg

1941 to 1942 Mr AL Smith MBM-Su67P05.jpg

1943 to 1944 Mr E M Farrell MBM-Sp67P03.jpg

1944 to 1944 Mr M S Allan joined the bank here MBM-Wi67P06.jpg

1948 to 1954 Mr R W Clark Pro Manager MBM-Wi65P54.jpg






Mr L E Luchford


1938 to 1948

Mr E S P Watts

Joined the Bank Here

1938 to 1956

Mr A L Smith

On the Staff

1941 to 1942

Mr E M Farell

On the Staff

1943 to 1944

Mr M S Allan

Joined the Bank Here

1943 to 1944

Mr R W Clark

Pro Manager

1948 to 1954

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1950 to 1956 Mr W J Clemow Joint Manager MBM-Au56P51.jpg

1951 Mr J R Branscombe Joint Manager MBM-Wi51P37.jpg

1951 to 1951 Mr B Harbour joined the bank here MBM-Sp69P10.jpg

1953 to 1954 Mr E R Smith joined the bank here MBM-Sp66P08.jpg

1953 to 1960 Mr WJ Vaughan MBM-Su64P05.jpg

1955 Mr E A Sawyer Manager MBM-Au55P49.jpg






Mr W J Clemow

Joint Manager

1950 to 1956

Mr J R Branscombe

Joint Manager


Mr B Harbour

Joined the Bank Here

1951 to 1951

Mr E R Smith

Joined the Bank Here

1953 to 1954

Mr W J Vaughan

On the Staff

1953 to 1960

Mr E A Sawyer



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1956 to 1969 Mr R A Machell Manager MBM-Su69P60.jpg

1962 to 1966 Mr E L J Press Accountant MBM-Su66P06.jpg

1964 to 1968 Mr W B Butterworth Deputy Manager MBM-Wi68P56.jpg

1966 Mr R Maynard Accountant MBM-Su66P04.jpg






Mr R A Machell


1956 to 1969

Mr E L J Press


1962 to 1966

Mr W B Butterworth

Deputy Manager

1964 to 1968

Mr R Maynard



Mr D C Bourne

Deputy Manager


Mr G Milne


1969 onwards

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Index Number and District:






11-00-20 London Cocks Biddulph

Full Branch

16 Whitehall London SW1

410 London

Mon to Fri 1000-1500

Saturday 0900-1130

01 930 9323/8 & 1795/6

No Nightsafe

Mr R A Machell Manager

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In 1966 Cocks Biddulph is included in Martins’ London Account Number Allocation, where Branches due for automation are given “significant digits” to identify them by account numbers issued. The Branch will be identified by the significant digits 21 and 22. We are grateful to friend of the Archive Stephen Walker, for this scan of a computerised Cocks Biddulph Branch cheque from his collection: Customers are encouraged to bring their cheques and paying in books to the branch to be “personalised” – the first step to the now ubiquitous allocation of account numbers. The NCR 315 Computers at LONDON COMPUTER CENTRE will then recognise customers’ accounts and automatically process entries to them.

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London Chief Overseas








30 December 1919

3 January 1928

15 December 1969

8 June 1992

Partnership of Cocks and Biddulph is formed

Opens 43 Charing Cross (later redesignated 16 Whitehall)

Name Change - Biddulph Cocks Eliot and Praed

Name Change – Biddulph Cocks and Ridge

Name Change – Cocks Biddulph and Company

Purchased assets of Codd and Co

Acquired Hallett & Co Navy Agents

Acquired by the Bank of Liverpool and Martins

Martins Bank Limited

Barclays Bank Limited 20-95-81 Whitehall Cocks Biddulph

Closed permanently from 12 Noon

London Curzon Street