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Opened in 1871, Ambleside is one of the oldest of Martins Bank’s Lake District Branches and comes from the amalgamation in 1893 of Messrs Wakefield Crewdson’s Kendal Bank, and the Bank of Liverpool.  Ambleside has a number of sub-Branches over the years, many of which make it through the merger with Barclays.

Hawkshead and Grasmere survive until the year 2000, and Coniston until 2018.  An agency is opened in 1898 by the Bank of Liverpool at Elterwater, and this survives as a sub-Branch of Martins until 1935.  During the Second World War, Ambleside Branch plays a very special part in the Bank’s war effort.

In service: 1871 – 5 December 2014

All Branch Exterior/Interior Images © Barclays Ref 0030/0043 and 0030/0020

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1941 to 1954 Mr O Gillespie Manager MBM-Su54P35.jpgIt is used as a “rest house” – somewhere for staff and their families to stay and take a break in the lovely Lake District, a chance to forget – if only fleetingly – the horrors of war.  Mr Gillespie (pictured, right), Manager at Ambleside from 1941 to 1954, takes personal charge of many of the arrangements and is highly regarded for his work in looking after those who come to use the Rest House.  In common with many based in Liverpool, the staff of Martins Bank Magazine has a strong love of the Lake District, as can be easily deduced from this visit to Ambleside in 1952, where we also meet the Branch staff, hear more about the role of the Wartime Rest House, and find that Ambleside Branch actually numbers an American President among its customers!

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There is a great temptation when writing about a visit to the Lake Dist­rict to indulge in descriptive passages, for each of us thinks that no other person can possibly have felt quite the same as we have done when faced with so much grandeur and beauty. But the Lakes have been well publicised by our poets and writers and their beauties are well-known to many of our readers, so we must confine ourselves to the object of our visit —that of meeting some of our colleagues who represent the Bank in Westmorland.  For us a visit to Ambleside is like going home; we have had so many happy times there with our children and we have so many friends that to set foot in our Ambleside branch is just like returning home after a long absence.


1960 s Ambleside Interior (1) BGA Ref 30-43.jpg Ambleside Interior 1 - The 1960s © Barclays

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Mr. Gillespie, our senior Lake District manager, although all his career has been spent in the Lakes, first at Keswick, then at Bowness, where he became Manager in 1934, and as Manager at Ambleside since 1941, could, if he wished, truthfully lay some claim to be as well known as any manager in the service—better-known than most. This was largely because of the Ambleside Rest House which was so well-used by the staff as a holiday centre until its discontinuance in 1949.

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Mr. Gillespie was very much concerned with certain aspects of the running of the Rest House and as a guide and friend to all who came he made a special place for himself in all our hearts. Now that his time in the Bank is running short we felt it entirely appropriate that this tribute to one who has helped to make so many people happy should be made, and we are glad to assure his many friends up and down the service that Time is using him kindly.

 Ambleside Interior 2 - The 1960s © Barclays

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Mr. G. Whitehouse, who signs Pro Manager, now occupies the former Rest House. Following his success in qualifying as an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Secretaries he came to Chief Accountant's Department at Head Office for three years but, apart from war service, has been at Ambleside since 1935.

Mr. E. B. Totty was on holiday on the day of our visit, but readers of our Spring, Summer and the present issue who have seen his articles on canoeing and log raft sailing will be interested to learn of his selection to accompany, as a reserve, the British team of four competing against Germany in the International Slalom at Lippstadt this year. Mr. Totty was spending his holiday learning the Eskimo Roll in the Tweed, the first man in the world, we believe, ever to learn this feat of boatman-ship in the Tweed.

1960 s Ambleside Interior (3) BGa Ref 30-43.jpg Ambleside Interior 3 - The 1960s © Barclays

At the end of July we had the pleasure of hearing him in the B.B.C. light Programme in connection with a canoeing course for youngsters which the B.B.C. broadcast.

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By the time these notes appear Mr. J R Hullock will have accepted the responsibilities of married life and we would like to send him and his wife our very good wishes for the future. The two girls are Miss A. E. Battersby and Miss M. Balme. Miss Battersby has been at the branch for three years and has recently become engaged to be married. Miss Balme only entered the service in April.  Those who stayed at the Rest House will remember Kathleen Dixon who was on the staff of the branch at that time. She is now living at Seascale and is the mother of a little boy; her married name is Mrs. K. M. Boys. Ambleside branch has had many distinguished customers and the signature reproduced above is a reminder of one of the most famous of them all, the First World War President of the United States who banked with us in 1906.

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Specimen signature of President Woodrow Wilson, who banked with the Bank of Liverpool at Ambleside Branch in 1906


Another inter­nationally-famous connection was Beatrix Potter of Peter Rabbit fame and many are the tales of this highly-individualistic old lady, who tramped the lanes of Lakeland in heavy boots, wearing garments made of cloth spun from the wool of her own flock of Herdwick sheep, and wearing on her head a headdress of the Balaclava type. In the last year of her life she came chuckling into Ambleside branch and showed Mr. Gillespie a half-crown which a motorist who had given her a lift had slipped to her, mistaking her homespun for poverty. She left a fortune…


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A rarely seen example of an Ambleside cheque that bears the crest of Messrs Wakefield Crewdson & Co – this is how the Bank’s cheques looked when President Wilson opened his account… It is interesting to note that the date of the cheque is partly printed as “189__” almost as if the Bank of Liverpool expects another merger before spending out on more stationery! 1965 Sees the retirement of Mr Whitehouse, whose forty-four year career with the bank included almost thirty years at Ambleside.  Martins Bank magazine drops in at the cocktail party held by Mr Whitehouse…

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1897 Bank of Liverpool Wakefield Crewdson Ambleside Cheque MBA

Image – © Martins Bank Archive Collections


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1948 to 1965 Mr G Whitehouse Pro Manager MBM-Su65P51.jpg1965 02 MBM.jpgA very pleasant cocktail party was given by Mr Whitehouse and his wife when he retired as Pro Manager of Ambleside branch at the end of April. The presentation of an electric drill and components was made by Mr W. O. Davies (Liverpool Assistant District Manager) who outlined amusingly Mr Whitehouse's career in the Bank and his long service at Ambleside branch. In the 29 years he had spent there he had been on almost every com­mittee in the town. Mr J. E. Cooper (Manager) thanked him for his service and wished him many more years of good health in retirement. A bouquet was presented to Mrs Whitehouse by Miss Rooking. In his reply Mr Whitehouse thanked his colleagues for their friendship and their generosity. His career which started in 1921 at Barrow took him to Kendal and Keighley, to Chief Accountant's Department, Head Office, and to Liverpool City Office before he moved to Ambleside in 1935. There he remained, apart from 4 years' war service, being appointed Pro Manager in 1948. In retirement he will continue to live in Ambleside.

Calming in the 1940s, almost Churchlike in the 1960s…

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Ambleside Exterior - The 1960s © Barclays

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This drawing of Ambleside branch appears in Martins Bank Magazine in 1946.  The branch plays a very important role during World War Two, when it is used by the bank as a “rest house” for staff and their families.  A kind of home away from home, the Ambleside Rest House is used and appreciated by a large number of Martins staff from all over the country, who are able to enjoy leave from war duty, or to take a much needed break in this beautiful part of the Lake District.  You can read much more about Martins Bank during the Second World War, including some of the branches that were bombed, and a number of surprising war “secrets” in our feature MARTINS AT WAR.


Just who has merged with whom?

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All these banking mergers can be so confusing – A customer of Ambleside Branch, acknowledging the safe arrival of cash sent by post and enclosing a receipt, addressed the letter to “MARTINS DISTRICT BANK” and the receipt to “MARTINS MIDLAND BANK”…



1911 to 1922 Mr E Herd MBM-Wi54P46.jpg

1915 to 1918 Mr I W Elliot MBM-Wi53P54.jpg

1932 to 1935 Mr J D Addison Pro Manager MBM-Su60P54.jpg

1933 to 1941 Mr H Dickman Manager MBM-Au47P15.jpg

1935 to 1948 Mr E O Driver Pro Manager MBM-Au60P48.jpg

1941 to 1954 Mr O Gillespie Manager MBM-Su54P35.jpg

Mr E Herd

On the Staff

1911 to 1922

Mr I W Elliot

On the Staff

1915 to 1918

Mr J D Addison

Pro Manager

1932 to 1935

Mr H Dickman


1933 to 1941

Mr E O Driver

Pro Manager

1935 to 1948

Mr O Gillespie


1941 to 1954

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1944 to 1953 Mr J R Hullock MBM-Au69P13.jpg

1948 to 1959 Mr E B Totty MBM-Wi67P55.jpg

1948 to 1965 Mr G Whitehouse Pro Manager MBM-Su65P51.jpg

1965 Mr C Law Manager MBM-Su65P05.jpg

Mr J R Hullock

On the staff

1944 to 1953

Me E B Totty

On the Staff

1948 to 1959

Mr G Whitehouse

Pro Manager

1948 to 1965

Mr R Nicholson


1954 to 1959

Mr C Law


1965 to 1969


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Index Number and District:






Martins Bank Limited 11-22-01 Ambleside

Main Branch

Market Place Ambleside Westmorland

202 Northern

Mon to Fri 10am to 3pm

Saturday 9am to 11.30am

Ambleside 2228

Nightsafe Installed

J E Cooper T.D. Manager

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27 June 1893

18 December 1918

3 January 1928

15 December 1969

 Friday 5 December 2014

Opened by Messrs Wakefield Crewdson – The Kendal Bank

Bank of Liverpool

Bank of Liverpool and Martins Limited

Martins Bank Limited

Barclays Bank Limited 20-02-04 Ambleside

Closed permanently from 12 noon

Annfield Plain



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