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West Riding Union Bank

18 Park Row is an original Branch of the West Riding Union Banking Company Limited, but only just – as the building is planned, mostly built before, but completed AFTER the 1902 merger of the West Riding Union Bank with the Lancashire and Yorkshire Bank.  Here we take a rare glimpse at the Branch as featured in “The Building News “ from October 1902, as a drawing for the original design of the building. The words “WEST RIDING UNION BANK” were to have been carved above the first floor windows.

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As we shall see below in our “then and now” comparison, once complete, the building is quite a talking point, covered with beautiful and ornate carvings, and in this respect it is such a shame that Martins Bank has to close and relinquish 18 Park Row in 1933 only five years after acquiring it.  How this happens is of course, a familiar story throughout the four hundred year history of Martins Bank and its constituent parts.


In Service: 1902 until 1933



The best laid plans…. 18 Park Row as drawn for “The Building News” October 1902

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1902 WRUB.jpgWhen banks amalgamate, there is inevitably some duplication of Branches. The Lancashire and Yorkshire Bank merges with the Bank of Liverpool and Martins in 1928, and coverage of the City of Leeds is such that within five years of becoming Martins Bank Limited, the Bank decides to close 18 Park Row. 

The Branch is but a stone’s throw from Nos 28-30 - the building that forms 1902 WRUB.jpgMartins Bank’s Leeds City Office Branch, and  Leeds District Office. Closure will therefore, bring no inconvenience to customers, and there are of course big savings to be made by letting the building go.  We are indebted to our good friend Dave Baldwin, for more of his superb “then and now” photographs, which demonstrate that many of Martins’ former Branches are still “rude with health” in the twenty-first century, even though they no longer transact a banking service. The irony for many, is that they are still great meeting places, only now the customers are more than likely to want a drink or a meal, to place a bet or to have their hair cut!  As the setting for an employment agency, 18 Park Row would seem to be an ideal place from which to plan your working life…

With no available views of 18 Park Row as Martins Bank, it is pictured here as the Lancashire and Yorkshire Bank in 1922.  In 2014 it is still looking every bit as splendid as when it was first opened in 1902…

Image © Martins Bank Archive collections - W N Townson Bequest

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Image © Martins Bank Archive collections - Dave Baldwin










11-421 Leeds Park Row                                              

Sub to 11-421 Leeds City Office

18 Park Row Leeds Yorkshire


Mon to Fri 1000-1500

Saturday 0900-1130

Leeds 25585

Counter Service Only

Mr Matthew Henry Watson Manager (1916)

Mr Herbert William Kelly Manager (1922)


Leeds Oakwood


15 July 1902

3 January 1928


Opened by the West Riding Union Banking Company Limited

Lancashire and Yorkshire Bank

Martins Bank Limited


Leeds University