From its opening in 1958, Martins Bank’s Branch at Colchester has continued to make a real impression.  The building in which it is housed is today listed under the Town and Country Planning Act 1947, as being of special architectural interest. It is an oak framed structure built early in the seventeenth century, and re-fronted in brick about the middle of eighteenth century.  The branch is featured – using an artist’s drawing (shown below) – in the 1962 booklet “Martins Bank Limited” which showcases the Bank’s new branches and services. Colchester is one of only a handful of Martins’ Branches to be located in East Anglia – the heartland of Barclays, who have outlets in practically every town and village of every one of the eastern counties...

In Service: 1958 to 16 May 1988

Branch Images © Barclays Ref 0030-0693

Despite Colchester already hosting a large number of Banks including Barclays, there must be something special about the Martins office, as it makes it through the merger with Barclays, and remains open for another twenty years, until 1988.  For our feature, we wind back to 1959, and the first visit to Colchester by Martins Bank Magazine. There, they meet the staff and learn more about the town itself…

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1959 01 MBM.jpgOur new branch at Col­chester may not have a drive-in window, but it can certainly claim to have drive-in facilities, even if not within the accepted meaning of the term. There is a private passage down one side of the branch into a very adequate private Martins Bank parking ground, into which cus­tomers may drive and leave their cars while transacting their busi­ness within. The building itself is Georgian and the very fine entrance door­way is 'scheduled' for preserva­tion. The architect, Mr. Marshall Sisson, A.R.A., F.R.I.B.A., F.S.A.,  has done a very fine and tasteful job of adapting what was a dentist's house to the needs of a bank.  Being situated a few yards off the main thoroughfare, a point often considered disadvantageous to the prosperity of a branch, has in fact proved a help in gaining business for this branch, as there are many people who dislike the crush, bustle and inevitable waiting connected with a main street. 


Colchester is, of course, a very old town and was an important place when the beginnings of London were of much less importance. It was the headquarters of a legion and it is still a garrison town. It has the remains of a castle which is as old as the Tower of London and the Roman walls are visible in many places, while one of the main roads follows the course of the wall, a very substantial stretch of which still survives. Though strengthened with modern brick the massive nature of the original construction is still most impressive. Roman tiles have been used in the building of some of the later structures and are very prominent in one of the churches and in the ruins of an old abbey in the centre of the town. The figure of Queen Helena, who converted the Emperor Constantine to Christianity, has been erected at the top of the tower of another church. Colchester is still a port, with its own wharves and installations, for the river Colne is tidal at this point and connoisseurs of food will recall that the Colchester oyster is an expensive delicacy.  In this connection it is interesting to note that Mr. H. W. Francis, the second-in-command at the time of our visit on August 12th, is a Freeman of the River Colne, being an hereditary member of the Colne Fishery Company.

Sep 1.jpg

Branch Images © Barclays Ref 0030-0693

A special Act of Parliament was passed in 1870 with regard to the ownership of the oyster beds, which were defined as belonging to the Corporation of Col­chester and certain specified individuals, who could only pass on their privilege through their sons and that conditional upon their sons being duly apprenticed for seven years.  Mr. Francis became an hereditary freeman through his father and served his apprenticeship, a fortnight annually for seven years. His association with the town led to his being invited to help with the new branch. Unfortunately, however, he has suffered a long illness since the branch was opened and may be unable to continue his work there.  The Manager, Mr. H. B. Turton, hails from the Manchester District, and was Manager at Bramhall for seven years. Prior to that he served at Miles Platting from the time of his entry into the old Lancashire and Yorkshire Bank in 1921 until his transfer to Brown Street in 1934. Apart from war service from 1941 to 1946 with the R.A.F., he remained at Brown Street until 1947 when he became one of the stalwarts of Manchester District Office. He was appointed Manager at Bramhall in 1950 and opened the new branch at Colchester last year.


Our competitors in Colchester maintain huge branches, with staffs of about 40, 50 and 60, but, nothing daunted, Mr. Turton has proceeded to build up a business with remarkable success for so short a time. He is keenly interested in every kind of social and charitable activity and in this he has the enthusiastic support of his wife. The pair of them have not been slow to identify themselves with the life of the place and they are both obviously determined to make a success of the new branch. We had the privilege of visiting their home and of being entertained there most pleasantly.

The third male member of the staff, Mr. M. A. Rushbrooke, we first met on the occasion of a visit to Ipswich. After the vicissitudes which have beset the staff since the branch was opened, he is proving a tower of strength to Mr. Turton.  Representing the female staff we have Miss A. G. York, a native of Colchester, who maintains her part of the burden with the efficiency we have come to expect of our girls. The counter was busier than we have found customary for a recently opened branch and there was a constant procession of people.  After lunch Mr. Turton took us for a quick look at the town, a look which certainly whetted our appetite for a further visit.




Colchester         Queen Street

Prettygate          Severalls Hospital



27 High Street                  St Botolph’s

47 Crouch Street              St John’s




Head Street













Sep 1.jpg

1959 Miss A G York MBM-Au59P41.jpg

1959 Mr H B Turton Manager MBM-Au59P41.jpg

1959 Mr M A Rushbrooke MBM-Au59P41.jpg

1962 to 1964 Mr C J Pearce MBM-Su65P06.jpg

1964 Mr SE Davidson pro Manager MBM-Su64P07.jpg






Miss A G York

On the Staff


Mr H B Turton


1959 to

Mr H W Francis

Branch Second


Mr M A Rushbrooke

On the Staff


Mr C J Pearce

On the Staff

1962 to 1964

Mr S E Davidson

Pro Manager

1964 to 1967

Sep 1.jpg






1964 to 1968 Mr D E Lowery MBM-Su68P23.jpg

1967 Mr CJ Barker  pro Manager MBM-Wi67P05.jpg

1967 Mr PJ Blatch Assistant Manager MBM-Wi67P02.jpg

BW Logo

BW Logo

BW Logo






Mr D E Lowery

On the Staff

1964 to 1968

Mr C J Barker

Pro Manager


Mr P J Blatch

Assistant Manager






Sep 1.jpg




Index No and District:






11-01-30 Colchester

Main Branch

54 Head Street Colchester Essex

476 London

Mon to Fri 1000-1500

Saturday 0900-1130

Colchester 71331

Nightsafe Installed

P Barwell Manager


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15 December 1969

16 May 1988

Opened by Martins Bank Limited

Barclays Bank Limited 20-22-66 Colchester Head Street

Closed and business transferred to Barclays Queen Street

Colwyn Bay