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Martins Bank 1928+


Hotel, Bank, Pub…

When the site of the former Bedford Corner Hotel at Tottenham Court Road becomes available, the Bank’s architects swing into action in order to design a new branch that will befit this prime and imposing site.  Celebrated designer Sax Shaw is commissioned to produce a tapestry for display inside the branch.

*                 In Service: 1955 until 23 November 1990

1955 London 236 Tottenham Court Road exterior 2 BGA Ref 30-2958

Branch Images © Barclays Ref 0030-2958

(You can read more about this in the magazine article below). At the same time Robert and Christopher Ironside (the latter being the designer of the original 10p piece) set to work to design and affix Martins coat of arms to the grained green granite outside. As we have noted within many of our Branch Network pages, British banks certainly have a fondness for using corner sites, because as a business you are able to display your brand in two streets at the same time. Also, there is just something special about walking into a large imposing building through doors set on the diagonal

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1955 London 236 Tottenham Court Road exterior 1 BGA Ref 30-2958

Branch Images © Barclays Ref 0030-2958

Tottenham Court Road is considered a suitable long term option for Barclays, who operate the branch from the 1969 merger until the end of 1990. Nowadays it has gone the way of many other former bank branches in being the ideal site for a pub.  Martins Bank Magazine pays the branch a visit in 1956, when it is less than a year old, and is keen to point out just how much admiration the building excites amongst the locals…

‘Ordinary Folk’- away from the gangs and vice of Soho…

1956 03Less than ten minutes' walk away from Garrick Street lies our new branch at Tottenham Court Road, but a whole world away in atmosphere and setting. Here we are between the stately squares which contain London University and the British Museum, and the colourful quarter of Soho. On the one hand you are in Bloomsbury, haunt of students and tourists, with its many hotels of popular price mingling with the atmosphere of learning, and on the other hand you are among the theatrical folk, or in the quarter of fashionable foreign restaurants, with just that suggestion of background shadow —gangs and haunts of vice—to heighten the interest when one walks through its well-known streets. But it is all very respectable for ordinary folk, whether by day or night.

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Images © Martins Bank Archive Collections

Our branch occupies an excellent corner site and excites much admiration, both on account of the attractive and distinctive grained green granite stonework and the handsome coat-of-arms, designed by Robin and Christopher Ironside, which surmounts the entrance. Inside, the eye is instantly drawn to the magnificent tapestry which hangs on the wall of the customers' space facing the entrance. The design depicts certain prominent landmarks in the Bloomsbury area, and Sax Shaw, the designer, has created a real work of art.  The architects, Bridgwater and Shepheard, have made of the interior a general ensemble which is a model for bank buildings of this type. The wooden panelling in mottled English oak veneer, the manager's desk built of walnut and made as a permanent fixture, the tasteful lighting, and not least the pictures on the walls, give an impression of restful good taste without undue ostentation which is instantly pleasing. The pictures, both in water colour, depict respectively Lord's Cricket Ground and a river steamer passing the Tower of London.

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The artist is Edwin la Dell. The floor of the banking hall is in Belgian fossil and Mazano marble and the columns are faced with Ashburton marble. The counter top and the desks are in Australian black bean, and the counter front is in walnut with a strip of Macassar ebony under the counter top. Mr. E. J. A. Salmon is the Manager and this is his first experience of a small branch. From 1928 until 1951 he was at 68 Lombard Street in various departments and in various capacities. He then became a signing officer. In 1954 he was appointed Assistant Manager at Fenchurch Street and he opened the new branch the following year. Mr. S. G. C. Hall, his second-in-command, has moved about the London District quite a bit and has been at 68 Lombard Street, Sloane Square, Southall, Oxford Circus and on District Office relief. Mr. J. L. Pearson entered the Bank at Reading, serving there until last year when he went on District Office Relief for six months until going to Tottenham Court Road.  The lady in our photograph, Miss J. Holbourn, is no longer in the Bank and her place has been taken by Miss J. S. Scott.   We concluded our visit by entertaining Mr. and Mrs. Salmon to lunch at a pre-selected haunt and proved to our satisfaction that in this district by no means all the best places are in Soho.

1955 London 236 Tottenham Court Road interior 5 BGA Ref 30-2958

Images © Barclays Ref 0030-2958


1955 London 236 Tottenham Court Road interior 3 BGA Ref 30-2958

1955 London 236 Tottenham Court Road interior 6 BGA Ref 30-2958

1955 London 236 Tottenham Court Road interior 4 BGA Ref 30-2958

…Some views in front of, and behind the scenes: A sense of space, plush furnishings, and Marbled pillars… 

Architecture in the News…

Martins Bank’s new Branch at Tottenham Court Road joins a growing number of the banks newest office to be given a lavish spread in the Architect and Building News Magazine.  As well as featuring a variety of interior and exterior photographs, the article gives the background to the fitting out of the former Bedford Corner Hotel, and lists in detail the names of the main contractor and the many sub-contractors and the materials they provided and fitted. The main text of the Tottenham Court Road article is reproduced below…

The site for this new bank is on a corner of the reconstructed war-damaged Bedford Corner Hotel. The ground floor and basement was acquired from the owners and occupier of the hotel by the Bank who required work space for Manager, three cashiers and eleven clerks; an enquiry counter and the usual ancillary accommodation.


The marble facing for the two facades is in Tipo issorie with slightly darker bands in Vert Stella. The window reveals are lined with Botticino and the plinth with Belgian Black Granite. The windows are in metal painted white. The grilles are in bronze, and the arms over the main entrance, designed by Robin and Christopher Ironside, are in bronze and silver bronze.

A Glimpse of the Midland Bank during building preparations

Image © Barclays Ref 0030-2958

The entrance door and lobby are in teak. The floor of the banking hall is in Belgian Fossil and Mazano marble, with a Belgian Fossil marble skirting throughout, and Botticino lining the window reveals.The columns are faced with Ashburton marble with satin chrome collars at top and bottom. Ashburton marble was also used for the cills in the window openings in which are inlaid black leather writing pads. All the walls of the banking hall are lined from floor to ceiling with mottled English Oak veneered in 9 in wide slipped strips. The counter top is Australian Black Bean and the front in Claro Walnut with a strip of Macassar Ebony under the counter. The clerks’ desks have Australian Black Bean tops, but otherwise are finished in solid walnut. On the underside of the first floor was a large number of drain and service pipes serving the hotel above, and these have been covered with a false ceiling, designed so that hinged panels can be easily opened for access to these pipes. The lobby is lined with teak externally, and internally with oak to match the wall panelling, with black leather inlay and corners and capping in satin chrome. At the end of the banking hall is hung a tapestry designed by Sax Shaw from preliminary drawings by Peter Shepheard and woven by The Edinburgh Tapestry Company Ltd. The design is a composition of important and historic buildings of the immediate Bloomsbury neighbourhood. The Manager's room has the wall behind the Manager's desk lined in oak similar to that in the banking hall and one wall lined with walnut bookcases, cupboards, etc.. to a height of 7ft with a large mirror above, this giving an impression of greater space in a rather small room. The desk and shelf and radiator fitting are in walnut with black leather top. The carpet is patterned in black and olive green, and the curtains are a greenish yellow.

1954 to 1960 E J A Salmon Manager MBM-Su65P08.jpg

1955 to 1955 Mr R Pennington MBM-Au66P02.jpg

1956 Miss J Holbourn MBM-Au56P06.jpg

1956 Mr J L Pearson MBM-Au56P06.jpg

1956 Mr S G C Hall MBM-Au56P06.jpg

1960 onwards Mr W F Ardley Manager MBM-Su69P56






Mr E J A Salmon


1954 to 1960

Mr R Pennington

On the Staff

1955 to 1955

Miss J Holbourn

On the Staff


Mr J L Pearson

On the Staff


Mr S G C Hall

On the Staff


Mr W F Ardley


1960 onwards

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Mr K A Clark

Limited Authority

1962 to 1967

Mr K S Laythorn

Pro Manager








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Index Number and District:






11-61-80 London Tottenham Court Road

Full Branch

236 Tottenham Court Rd London W1

468 London

Mon to Fri 1000-1500

Saturday 0900-1130

Telephone: 01 636 0163

Nightsafe Installed

Mr W F Ardley Manager

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Tottenham Court Road Branch is included in Martins Bank’s London Account Number Allocation, where Branches due for automation are given “significant digits” to identify them by account numbers issued. The Branch will be identified by the significant digits 47 when its daily work is processed at the London Computer Centre.


London Tothill Street SW1


15 December 1969

23 November 1990

Opened by Martins Bank Limited

Barclays Bank Limited 20-87-28 236 Tottenham Court Road


London Waterloo Place


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