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Bank of Liverpool

It is as if someone were designing a wedding cake rather than a building, and to look at it, Old Swan could easily have been constructed from red and white LEGO® bricks.  Messrs Grayson and Ould Architects have really gone to town here - with a tower, a mock belfry, ornamental windows, bay windows, a brick arch or two, a stacked roof with curlecues, an entrance porch and even balustrades at the lower level, this part of Liverpool is obviously in for a treat in 1906 when the Bank of Liverpool moves in to its newly built Branch at Old Swan.  It is also a treat that has continued ever since with Barclays still occupying the building nearly 120 years later! The photograph (below, right) dates from somewhere around the late 1940s.

A mass of tram wires can be seen overhead, and a long queue of what looks like expectant bank customers, unless of course they are simply waiting for the next tram!  The cheque shown below from Old Swan Branch is one of the first to employ a number of new security features, and of course the Magnetic Ink Line that heralds the age of reading and sorting cheques by electronic means. 

In Service: 1893 (but from 1906 at these premises) until 15 December 2017


Image © The Building News 24 August 1906

You can read more about this, including how Martins is the first bank to use this equipment and develop the system still used today in the UK for the clearing of cheques, in our TECHNOLOGY section.  The complicated patterning across the main body of the cheque is designed to prevent fraud. Prior to this design, Martins Bank Cheques had the words “MARTINS BANK LIMITED” printed over and over again in the background across the entire surface.

Our feature focusses on the retirement in 1965 of Mr W C Frost, Manager of Old Swan for five years. These are still firmly the days when a job in a bank was a job for life.  Martins Bank’s Managers are recorded retiring in the mid to late 1960s having served in some cases up to forty-seven years of their lives for the same employer. Mr frost has an amazing total service of forty-three years, and is no doubt ready now to hang up his Bank tie for good…

1960 s Liverpool Old Swan exterior 1 BGA Ref 30-1676.jpg

Image © Barclays Ref 0030-1676




1965 02 MBM.jpg1960 to 1965 Mr W C Frost Manager MBM-Su65P55.jpgwhen Mr Frost, Manager of Old Swan branch, Liverpool, retired at the end of March after 43 years’ service, over 50 past and present colleagues met at the branch to take sherry with him. They were welcomed by Mr P. G. Kennerley (Pro Manager), who spoke of the high esteem in which Mr Frost was held by both staff and customers, and after Mrs Angela Thompson had presented a bouquet to Mrs Frost he called upon the District General Manager to make the presentation. Mr Buchanan had known Mr Frost since his own junior days at Great Crosby branch under Mr Frost’s guidance and he described him as a most kindly and sympathetic man. He made special mention of Mr Frost’s interest in amateur football—he was treasurer of the I. Zingari Football League for many years—and after thanking him for his loyal service handed him a cheque on behalf of the many subscribers. Mr Frost’s reply, interspersed with reminiscences, was one of thanks to all his friends for joining him on his last day in the Bank, for their kind thoughts and for their generosity: the subscription money would go towards a greenhouse. Although a Londoner, Mr Frost entered the Bank in 1921 at Liverpool Foreign branch where he served eight years. After moving to Toxteth branch he spent all his career at Liverpool District branches and was appointed Manager of Blundellsands branch in 1955 and of Old Swan branch in 1960. He spent the years 1942-46 in the R.A.F.

Robert Montgomery’s amazing collection of modern day UK bank branches has yielded this lovely shot of Old Swan Branch in May 2014, just slightly more than three and a half years before its permanent closure…

Image © Barclays Ref 0030-1676


Image © Martins Bank Archive Collections – Robert Montgomery

In our Branch History below, you will see a much larger number of entries than we usually provide in that particular section of our Branch Network feature.  This is because our friends at Barclays Group Archives unearthed for us, details from Martins Bank’s premises register, which demonstrate a busy life for the building at 521 Prescot Road…


1918 Mr H A Wilmot joined the bank here MBM-Su62P54.jpg

1935 to 1935 Mr G H M Clayton MBM-Au64P03.jpg

1949 to 1950 Mr J N Quine MBM-Wi68P52.jpg

1951 to 1953 Mr H Glover Ltd Auth MBM-Sp65P04.jpg

1953 to 1960 Mr J F Willis Pro Manager MBM-Su66P04.jpg






Mr H A Wilmott

Joined the Bank Here


Mr Oswald Morris


1932 to 1946

Mr G H M Clayton

On the Staff

1935 to 1935

Mr J N Quine

On the Staff

1949 to 1950

Mr H Glover

Limited Authority

1951 to 1953

Mr J F Willis

Pro Manager

1953 to 1960

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1960 to 1964 Mr F S Pitts Pro Manager MBM-Sp64P05.jpg

1960 to 1965 Mr W C Frost Manager MBM-Su65P55.jpg

1965 Mr JB Hawkins Manager MBM-Su65P07.jpg






Mr A E Houslay

On the Staff

1955 to 1961

Mr G R Kelly

On the Staff

1956 to 1956

Mr F S Pitts

On the Staff

1960 to 1964

Mr W C Frost


1960 to 1965

Mr P G Kennerley

Pro Manager

1963 to 1966

Mr J B Hawkins


1965 onwards






1966 Mr JT Rollins pro Manager MBM-Au66P02.jpg

1968 Robert Drake MBM-Wi68P32






Mr J T Rollins

Pro Manager


Mr Robert Drake

On the Staff

















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Index Number and District:






Martins Bank Limited 11-59-60 Liverpool Old Swan

Full Branch

521 Prescot Road L13 5UD

31 Liverpool

Mon to Fri 1000-1500

Saturday 0900-1130

051 228 4704/5

Nightsafe Installed

Mr J B Hawkins Manager


Liverpool Myrtle Street



18 December 1918

3 January 1928

2 November 1929


16 April 1932

11 May 1932


14 September 1966


15 December 1969

15 December 2017

Opened by the Bank of Liverpool at 507 Prescot Road

Moved to 521 Prescot Road

Bank of Liverpool and Martins

Martins Bank Limited

Temporary electricity sub-station erected on the

  Western Boundary of the building

Sub-station demolished

Arrangements made to affix a professional nameplate

  on the gable end of the building at 1 Derby Lane

521 Prescot Road is listed as a place of historical

  or architectural interest

Barclays Bank Limited 20-50-86 Liverpool Old Swan

Closed Permanently from 12 Noon

Liverpool 157 Scotland Road