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Martins Bank 1928+

Talk about one minute to midnight – Lewisham is quite a large and lavish branch to be opening when the merger of Martins and Barclays Banks is all but complete, but open it does, AND to a fair degree of publicity in the local press.  On the face of it, the historical links are somewhat tenuous, but it seems the Bank has been in Lewisham before – some two hundred years earlier. Quite how is open to debate, but Martins Bank Magazine sets out to investigate in this article published in its Summer 1968 edition…

In Service: 2 May 1968 until 27 October 1971 

Branch Images © Barclays Ref 0030-1625

1968 02the bank's 'return' to Lewisham was the feature of the press publicity given to our new branch when it opened early in May. There was never an actual branch in Lewisham in the seventeen-hundreds but our new office stands on what were once the grounds of a large house known as 'The Limes'.  There, from 1749 to 1782, lived Ebenezer Blackwell, a partner in the firm of Martin & Company, of the Grasshopper in Lombard Street.  And Blackwell did in one respect bring the Bank to Lewisham, for he raised from his firm a loan of £600 - a considerable sum at the time - towards the rebuilding of Lewisham Parish Church.

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Lewisham ReturnIn the annals of Lewisham 'The Limes' is famed for its association with John Wesley.   In Blackwell's day Lewisham was still a village, a single street of pleasant houses, and to the home of his friend, Ebenezer Blackwell, Wesley would retreat from London to study and prepare his sermons. That single street is now the wide and busy Lewisham High Street which has attracted all the major stores - and Martins Bank.

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Lewisham, through the London Government Act of 1965, is a London Borough, its fourteen square miles enveloping Deptford, Catford, Blackheath, Downham and nearly 300,000 people. 'The Borough has thirty-seven branch banks, too', said an undaunted Mr Richard Purkiss, our Manager, when we visited the branch three weeks after the opening. In that short time, and starting with little more than the staff's own accounts, the branch had made an impressive start to attracting business. In appearance, the branch wears an air of distinction. As the photograph shows, the rounding of the glass and of the edges of the steel pillars makes this design unusual but effective.

Image © Martins Bank Archive Collection

Advertisement re-mastered 2018

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Inside, the curves are echoed in the vaulting of the ceiling, the rounding of the corners of one or two walls built of warm brown bricks, and in the vinyl tiles which run literally off the floor to form the counter front. At the rear is a private car park from which customers can enter the branch by way of an attractively planted patio. Perhaps to compensate for the 'roundness' of the office, the staff seem to have been selected for their slimness. Athletics must be responsible in the case of Dick Purkiss, for he approaches life with a dash that must have proved useful when he was representing Kent in track events in the 1950's.


This reproduction in sepia on plastic laminate of an old drawing of ‘The Limes’, forms a mural in the corridor leading from the office to the rear car park.


The same drawing has been used for the cover of a leaflet, produced for customers of the branch, which explains the association of ‘The Limes’ with the bank and John Wesley

Lewisham Mural.jpg


1968 Lewisham interior 2 BGA Ref  30-1625.jpg

Living and working in areas he knows well, he is now setting about selling himself as Mr Martins Bank, Lewisham. The second man is Doug Owens, a North Easterner from Ferryhill, fresh from a Domestic Training Course, and looking forward to settling his wife and family in their new home at Bexley. Mr Owens is used to the small branch atmosphere and Lewisham branch suits him well.


A keen youth worker for Durham County Council, he hopes to continue youth work in his new surroundings. Peter Scrivens, who looks after the steadily increasing business at the counter, came from Bexley Heath branch. He started three years ago at his home-town branch, Mottingham, and is getting no small amount of satisfaction from seeing the build-up of business. After working at Holborn and South Audley Street branches, Margaret Pearce is pleased to be away from the City, though it has meant giving up her place in one of the Bank's netball teams. Her experience of working at a computerised branch is proving useful as Lewisham has been placed straight away on computer operation. When we stepped out into the hustle and bustle of Lewisham High Street from an office so pleasing and restful to the eye we half expected the people of Lewisham to be queueing to get in. Perhaps when the word gets around . . .

Lewisham Staff.jpg

1968 RC Purkiss Manager MBM-Su68P22.jpg

1968 Douglas Owens MBM-Su68P09.jpg

1968 Margaret Pearce MBM-Su68P09.jpg

1968 Peter Scrivens MBM-Su68P09.jpg

1968 Ann Waud temp from Automation dept MBM-Su68P09.jpg

1968 Peter Baddams Temp from Automation Dept MBM-Su68P09.jpg






Mr R C Purkiss

First Manager Here

1968 onwards

Mr Douglas Owens

Branch Second


Miss Margaret Pearce

On the Staff


Mr Peter Scrivens

On the Staff


Miss Ann Waud

Temporary staff from Automation Dept 1968

Mr Peter Baddams

Temporary staff from Automation Dept 1968

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Index Number and District:






11-40-50 Lewisham

Full Branch

222/5 High Street Lewisham London SE13

434 London

Mon to Fri 1000-1500

Saturday 0900-1130

01 852 0459

Nightsafe Installed

Mr R C Purkiss Manager

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Lewisham is included in Martins’ London Account Number Allocation, where Branches due for automation are given “significant  digits” to identify them by account numbers issued at the London Computer Centre. The Branch Customer Accounts will be identified by the significant digits 7 4.

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London 405 Holloway Road

2 May 1968

15 December 1969

27 October 1971

Opened by Martins Bank Limited

Barclays Bank Limited 20-49-82 Lewisham High Street


London Mottingham SE9