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Martins Bank 1928+

Despite Martins Bank having historical connections back to the time of Shakespeare, it is not until 1958 that the Bank opens up shop in the birthplace of the Bard himself, in a former tearoom know as the Shakespeare Gallery! We can well imagine Mr Mainwaring, Manager of Martins Bank WALMINGTON ON SEA, visiting somewhere just like this each day, to enjoy morning coffee with his Chief Clerk Mr Wilson…

We are lucky to hold two colour images of Stratford-upon-Avon Branch in the Archive. Both are taken in the very early 1960s, when the Branch had only been open for a couple of years. The first image shows the proximity to the branch of Barclays to the left, and to the right the National Provincial Bank. There are not many high streets left in the twenty-first century where you could find even one bank, let alone three in a row!

The close-up colour image of Stratford upon Avon branch is taken from one of two slides of Midland District Branches kindly donated by our good friend and Martins Colleague, the late Iris Brooks.  The other colour slide image can be seen on our SHREWSBURY page.  Iris was known and liked in the Midland District branches of the Bank, and at one stage the Bank asked her to put together local training courses. She established the Midland District Machine School at Derby Branch.


In Service: September 1958 until 24 April 1998

Image © Martins Bank Archive Collections

Image © Martins Bank Archive Collections - Iris Brooks 1962

When Martins Bank Magazine visits Stratford upon Avon Branch some seven months after it was opened, they are not even fifteen words into their first sentence before “the Bard of Avon” himself is mentioned, and by the second paragraph the “sudden realisation” that they are visiting the town on Shakespeare’s birthday, sends the writer ever more into rapture…

The sunshine of a perfect April day bathed the city of the Bard of Avon as we paid our first visit to the ancient town since our branch was opened there in September of last year. Our visit was obviously expected as the Union Jack had been spread across the front of our building and, gazing at the rows of flagstaffs with the flags of the nations thereon waiting to be broken, we were most impressed with the standing of our bank in this famous town, and with the influence of Mr. Gordon Proud, its Manager, whose position is such that in a few short months he has only to whisper that he is expecting a visit from a Head Office official to cause the town to put on a display of unbridled rejoicing!

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And then the truth dawned. April 23rd, the day of our visit, is Shakespeare's birthday. Well, at least we had chosen the right day on which to pay our own modest tribute, and nothing is more pleasant than to arrive in a town which is en fete, for we like music and dancing in the streets, processions and suchlike ceremonial. Our branch is very well situated in the banking quarter, almost on a corner site. Although the property has, of necessity, been converted to its present use, it has a recorded history of five centuries. In mediaeval times it belonged to Stratford's Guild of the Holy Cross and was oc­cupied as an inn known as the “Angel”. There are records of rebuilding operations during 1467-1469.  Following the suppression of the Guild, the “Angel” passed into the ownership of the Corpora­tion of Stratford-upon-Avon, whose property it still remains. The “Angel” was an important hostelry in Shakespeare's time. After a period of decay followed by rebuilding in the   eighteenth century it appears to have been used at one time as an inn and at another as a private dwelling. During the last century its premises were occupied by a succession of drapers until the house was res­tored and opened in 1913 as an antique shop and tearooms known as the Shakespeare Gallery. The building is a half-timbered structure typical of many to be found in the Stratford of Shakes­peare. The core of the building certainly belongs to the late thirteenth century, although for the most part it is of later addition and some modern imitation. The premises as existing lent themselves admirably to a conversion of this nature and a minimum of structural alteration proved necessary to provide the required accommodation. The half-timbering with its lath and plaster infilling providing a contrast in black and white, the overhanging upper storeys and the twin gables, all contribute to a fine elevation that faces the busiest part of the town in the centre of a predominantly business area. The layout of the interior was governed by the position of the existing iron and steel columns now incorporated into the counter screen behind the cashiers.  This was successfully accomplished by casing and decorative treatment, and another difficulty involved in concealing an irregular ceiling broken with a mass of beams varying in depths was effectively solved by masking with a suspended ceiling.

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1959 Stratford upon Avon Interior New 2 RT - BGA Ref 30-2816


The Branch in its days as the Shakespeare Tea Rooms


Smooth lines, and the suspended ceiling  of the new banking hall

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The partition separating the banking hall from the waiting room outside the Manager's Office is the focal point of the interior design. The decora­tive glazing in the screen incorporating a stylized Bank Coat of Arms as the predominant feature was designed and executed by a department of the Kingston School of Art.  Living so far south is an entirely new experience for Mr. and Mrs. Proud, both of whom are North-Easterners. He has worked in Newcastle, Stockton and as Pro Manager at Durham prior to his present appointment.  His second-in-command, Mr. A. Atkin, was trained at Derby and only the junior male member of the staff, Mr T Sumner, had previously lived in the town, though he is actually a native of Tamworth. Miss M. Dodds, the lady member, is Scottish and comes to us because her father is a serving officer in the R.A.F. and has until recently been stationed at Wellesbourne. After we had had the pleasure of entertaining Mr. and Mrs. Proud to lunch we got caught up in the festivities right outside our branch. Following lunch at the Memorial Theatre the visiting notabilities walked in procession to Shakespeare's birthplace to lay wreaths and then to his burial place for the same purpose.

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Image © Barclays Ref 0030-2816

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A military band preceded them and we saw (from a distance) Valerie Hobson, now Mrs. John Profumo, wife of the M.P. for Stratford, and Paul Robeson. We had not seen Miss Hobson since we entertained her, on behalf of the Bank, when she visited Liverpool some years ago. Then followed a short drive to a quiet country lane, away from the milling crowds, for the purpose of taking the staff photograph, and after a few very crowded hours we said a regretful goodbye.  We were pleased to note that the new branch is making very satisfactory progress and before long will be firmly established.

…and now a word or two from our sponsor, William Shakespeare (?)

We don’t know whether or not this counts as the Bank “milking” a situation, but as ever, they are not afraid to promote Martins as a long standing and historic financial institution.  Enter once more the mock Tudor effect - a favourite of Martins Bank, particularly in the late 1950s - notable examples are the branches at Swansea, Prestatyn, Shrewsbury and Nantwich, each of them looking like they have been there since the time of William Shakespeare himself, and whilst the BUILDING at Stratford-upon-Avon actually does go back that far, the occupier does not!  In 1958 this booket is produced and offered to customers to show off just what the bank has done to this very old building - i.e. they turned it into a branch bank…

Image © Martins Bank Archive Collections






Mr Alan Atkin

Branch Second

1958 to 1960

Mr G Proud


1958 to 1964

Miss M Dodds

On the Staff

1958 to ?

Mr T Sumner

Joined the Bank Here

1958 to ?

Mr J R Barrett

On the Staff

1960 to 1966

Mr P D Dyson


1964 to 1968

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Miss Monica Hornsby



Mr F Hartley

Pro Manager


Mr R M Roberts


1968 onwards










20 Bridge Street










Main Branch

Cattle Market


Main Branch

Cattle Market





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Index Number and District:






11-35-80 Stratford upon Avon

Full Branch

20 Bridge Street Stratford upon Avon Warwickshire

581 Midland

Mon to Fri 1000-1500

Saturday 0900-1130

Stratford upon Avon 5821/2

Nightsafe Installed

Mr R M Roberts Manager

Stourport on Severn

September 1958

15 December 1969

24 April 1998

Opened by Martins Bank Limited

Barclays Bank Limited 20-83-07 Stratford upon Avon



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