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.
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.
1902 until 1933
The best laid plans…. 18 Park Row as
drawn for “The Building News” October 1902
When 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
28-30 - the building that forms Martins 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…