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Martins Bank 1928+

You push a little button, and…


No less a celebrity than Paul Temple (played by the sublime Peter Coke) is heard in an episode of one his radio adventures referring to “the Bank in South Audley Street”.  We would like to hope that author Francis Durbridge intended that bank to be Martins, as their branch at 41a South Audley Street opens in 1954, which is when Peter Coke takes over the main role of the dogged detective.  Fantasy aside, South Audley Street makes the headlines early in 1960 by becoming the first branch of a UK bank to process its daily transactions on a computer. PEGASUS  (named after the winged horse of Greek legend) has arrived, and nothing will ever be the same again.  Staff will have to get used to inputting work to a computer rather than writing things in a ledger -  a hard concept for many.  It is the aim of Organisation Research and Development Department to combine the activity of recording transactions on a computer, with the automation of cheques through the use of reader-sorter machines linked to computer equipment.  This is successfully achieved, and Pegasus is soon processing the work of South Audley Street in London, with the next stage Pegasus Two computer housed at LIVERPOOL COMPUTER CENTRE, covering the work of Liverpool City Office and Heywoods Branches.  

In Service: 1954 until 9 March 1970

All Branch Images © Barclays Ref: 0033-0513

By 1961, London City Office at 68 Lombard Street has state of the art IBM equipment that is able to electronically read and sort 950 cheques per minute.  By 1966 an even more state-of-the-art computer centre is completed at BUCKLERSBURY HOUSE in London, vastly increasing the Bank’s processing possibilities. Although Martins’ involvement in computers fades into obscurity with the takeover by Barclays, we cannot underestimate its importance in establishing the way that all banks have processed cheques for sixty years.  The final issue of Martins Bank Magazine – winter 1969 – reminds us of this, and recalls the arrival of the computer age at South Audley Street Branch:

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1959: “The announcement that the Bank has ordered a computer and that delivery is expected in no more than twelve months hence may have come as a rude shock to some who have prayed that it would not come in their time” – But come it had, and in Spring 1960 in co-operation with Ferranti using their Pegasus computer, we had taken South Audley Street as the guinea-pig branch.  For the first time in this country, the current account work of a branch was operated day to day on an electronic computer.

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For more information and images, please visit our TECHNOLOGY pages. Sadly, as Barclays is already well represented in this part of London, South Audley Street Branch closes in 1970 and the Business is transferred to Barclays’ 6 Mount Street Branch.


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Forty-four years not out (well almost)

1954 to 1969 Mr G K Turner Manager MBM-Su69P62.jpgIt is not unusual for members of the Bank’s Staff to clock up the best part of FIFTY years in the service of their employer, something that nowadays seems utterly incongruous with the “portable” workforce.  Martins Bank’s Manager at South Audley Street is Mr Gilbert Turner. It was he opened the branch in 1954 and has been at the helm ever since, seeing the branch into the computer age.  Now in 1969 it is time for him to hang up his Bank tie for good, but he is somewhat peeved when a virus interferes with his service record!  In the days of “a job for life”, this certainly is unwelcome news…

Image © Martins Bank Archive Collections

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Image © Barclays Ref: 0033/0513

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1969 02 MBM.jpgvery disappointed at failing to complete his 44 years' service by five hours, Mr Gilbert Turner was forced to leave the office and go home to bed on March 31. However, the 'extremely unpleasant virus' which caused his disappointment was retreating a week later and he was able to use the new portable typewriter presented to him by Mr W. E. Turnbull on March 27.  On that evening a reception was held at South Audley Street branch at which many old friends and colleagues were present. Mrs Turner, who received a bouquet from Miss Angela Lamb, was accompanied by her younger daughter. Mr Turner's career began at Millfield in 1925 and he served at various branches in the North East until his transfer to 68 Lombard Street in 1937. After five years with H.M. Forces he was appointed Pro Manager at Curzon Street in 1951 and Manager at South Audley Street in 1954. Mr Turner tells us that the photograph supplied to us has also been filed with a film production company: his friends should therefore watch their screens carefully.







Mr G K Turner


1954 to 31 Mar 1969

Mr C Askew

On the Staff

1955 to 1956

Mr D G Hill

On the Staff

1956 to 1958

Mr P J Hole

Joined the Bank Here

1959 to 1960

Mr W J Vaughan

On the Staff

1960 to 1964

Mr A W George

On the Staff

1964 to 1968











Mr N Deane


01 Apr 1969 onwards










Index Number and District:






11-05-80 London 41a South Audley Street

Full and Automated Branch

41a South Audley Street London W1

466 London

Mon to Fri 1000-1500

Saturday 0900-1130

01 499 1501 & 1039

Nightsafe Installed

Mr N Deane Manager

South Audley Street is included in Martins’ London Account Number Allocation - Branches due for automation are given “significant digits” to identify them at the London Computer Centre by account numbers issued and printed on customers’ vouchers. The Branch will be identified by the significant digits 3 9.


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London 25 Soho Square


Spring 1960

9 March 1970

Opened by Martins Bank Limited

Becomes the Bank’s first computerised branch in London

Closed and business transferred to Barclays Mount Street

London 23 St James’ Street