Heath is not to be confused with Bexley – the two are separate towns, each
with its own branch of Martins Bank and both are original offices of “The
Grasshopper” which comprises the fifteen offices of Martin’s Private Bank and
its Head office at 68 Lombard Street. This delightful and atmospheric image,
courtesy of Bexley Local Studies & Archive Centre, was found for us by
Grasshopper Pensioners’ Club Secretary Dave Baldwin. It shows the original
location of the branch. The current building, still in use by Barclays, was
built nearby when this particuIar part of Bexley Heath was redeveloped.
Whilst this might nowadays be the London Borough of Bexleyheath, Martins
Bank’s branch stationery places the town correctly, in Kent (see cheque
In Service: 1 January
1886 until present day
Image © Bexley Local
Studies & Archive Centre
the first of two articles from Martins Bank Magazine, we journey to Bexley
Heath in 1951 and meet the staff.
Members of Martins Bank’s staff have always been known for their
participation in sport, often with great success, and in 1949, in our second
feature, Bexley Heath staff member
Jean Lyle is making a name for herself by winning the London Evening News
choice of Bexley Heath puzzled some of our London friends; there are so many
other branches in more interesting localities. At the outset, therefore, it
ought to be made clear that Bexley Heath was chosen for the very reason that
there was no special reason why it should be chosen. In other words, if the choice
is always to fall on a beauty spot or on a branch which is a little out of
the ordinary, or for some good and specific reason, a great number of
branches may feel that they will never qualify to be featured in this series. The choice of Bexley Heath for this
instalment is an answer to this feeling which has been expressed to us from
time to time. Bexley Heath was one of
the original branches of the old Martin's Bank and was opened as long ago as
1887, so that it has been going for a very long time. There was a heath at
Bexley. in those days, but nowadays the place is like a London suburb, with a
great arterial road to the east lined with branches of the well-known
multiple shops. Coming from the Southern Electric station, which is quite a
long way from our branch in Market Place, it is hard to get the feel of the
place and to give it a label other than “suburban”.
when one reaches Market Place itself, with its little clock tower on, and yet
a few feet away from the arterial road, does one feel that here is a remnant
of what was once a separate community, though now swallowed by the advancing
bricks and mortar. Our branch is an
attractive single storey building which had a lucky miss from total destruction
when a bomb fell two doors away and blew the roof off. If the architect had
designed it so that the banking hall was not quite so lofty and had provided
for office accommodation above it would have been warmer for the staff and
would have provided additional remuneration for the Bank, but maybe there
were good reasons for that. Mr. G. H.
Ritchie is a Liverpool man who, since 1917, has served at Stanley Road, Head
Office, Sefton Park, Ormskirk, Custom House, Liverpool City Office,
Inspection Department, Cocks Biddulph, Mottingham, Baker Street and Tothill
Street before receiving his first appointment as Manager at Dartford in
1937. His appointment as Manager at Bexley Heath came ten years later.
We had the pleasure of meeting Mrs.
Ritchie, who is also a Liverpudlian and their son John, who was born in the
South. All three of them are keen golfers, and the previous day Mrs. Ritchie
had won a silver trophy to add to the two she already possesses. John won a
prize the previous week and Mr. Ritchie finished equal second in the Buxton
Challenge Cup competition only two days before our visit. This is the
nearest he has been to qualifying for the final rounds of the Directors'
Challenge Cup. Maybe next year! To our regret
we did not meet A. C. Drew who was on holiday at the time, but he managed to
turn up for the photograph. He has a son in the Bank, at present doing his
National Service with the R.A.F. at Cambridge. The young man is a keen cyclist and is a
member of a cycling club.
The week before our visit he had cycled
home from Cambridge and then taken part in a 35-mile road race. Mr. Drew
himself prefers the gentler exercise of gardening. G. G. Davis commenced his banking career at Bexley Heath
in 1926 and after serving at various other branches in the London District
and at District Office, returned to his first branch twenty years later.
During the war he served with the Artillery in the Western Desert with the
First Army, and had the misfortune to be blown up, an experience which ended
his front-line career. R. H. G. Beatrip is
another gunner who was engaged on coastal defence during the war. After the
invasion he had the interesting experience of being engaged in Belgium in the
department of the army dealing with psychological warfare. His bank service
has all been in the London District and he has been at Bexley Heath since
is certainly a small world and we were not a little surprised on meeting A.
Brookes* to discover that he is a
first cousin of Bill Brookes, whose
work for the social life of the Bank in the Liverpool District is so
outstanding, and who is known all over the Service by his cartoons in our
Magazine. A. Brookes* entered
the Bank in 1941 and apart from war service 1943 to 1947, has spent all his
time in the London District. We send him every good wish on the occasion of
his approaching marriage in September. E. D. V.
Garrett was only transferred to Bexley Heath on the day before our arrival.
His war service was performed in the Navy in the Western Mediterranean.
L. H. Wilson came into the Bank in 1949,
subsequently doing his National Service with the R.A.F. We soon found
ourselves on common ground because of our mutual love of the game of chess.
The junior boy is J. G. Killick, who entered the
Bank in 1949. He will be going into the army during the present year. We
recommend the Secretary of the London District Cricket Team to put him on the
list of people to be tried out when he returns to the Bank. Modesty prevents
some of these young men from pushing themselves.
The senior girl is Miss A. M. Wickens,
who has been in the Bank since 1931, all the time at Bexley Heath. She is a competent cashier and a good
all-round worker and Mr. Ritchie speaks very highly of her. Miss J. Lyle, who entered the Bank in 1935 and served at
London Office and Dartford before going to Bexley Heath in 1935, has already
received some publicity, including a photograph, in our pages (see below) for
her exploits at tennis and we were pleased to meet her in person. The baby of the office is Miss D. C. Letts, and a very
bright and attractive young lady she is. She is keen on all sports, even to
cycling to the office on suitable days. She entered the Bank in March of last
year. Although, naturally, we shall not be
making a visit of this nature to Bexley Heath again, we hope to see some of
them at the shows of the Cicala Players or at the London District Dance or at
the Annual Dinner from time to time.
* (Although this article refers to “A Brookes”, the member of staff
concerned is actually Sam Brookes)
Jean Lyle of Bexley Heath branch recently distinguished herself in the world
of tennis by winning, in partnership with her sister, the Women's Doubles in
the London " Evening News " Tournament (for players who play their
tennis in the clubs and parks of London and a 25-mile radius, in the evenings
and during the week-end). The final was played at the Queens Club, London,
and the sisters won 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. Miss Lyle was also successful in reaching
the final of the Women's Singles, and though she lost 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, it was
an excellent effort, played as it was almost immediately after the doubles. Miss Lyle and her sister now hold the “Evening News”
Silver Challenge Cup for one year, and in addition they each received a
presentation tennis racquet and a voucher to be expended on sports equipment.
Miss Lyle received a further racquet and a voucher for the singles event.
Last year Miss Lyle played for Kent v. Essex, and
in September she played in the final of the Kent County Club Tournament.