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The Ernesettle “experiment”…

1938 to 1952 Mr T Quayle Clerk in Charge then Manager from 1949 MBM-Su67P57In the late 1950s Martins’ southern expansion is in full swing.  The managers and staff at the furthest outposts of the Bank are referred to as “pioneers”, and consist, certainly on the management side of experienced staff either from the Northern branches, or from the well established London or South Coast outlets.  In 1958,  a conversation between Martins Bank’s Plymouth Manager Mr T Quayle (Pictured) and a local council official leads to the Bank opening a sub branch at the post-war housing estate at Ernesettle, on the north-western edge of the city. This is no ordinary branch however, it is envisaged by Plymouth City Council and Martins as a SOCIAL EXPERIMENT designed to educate potential customers to the idea of using bank payment services instead of cash. The local papers seem to support the idea, with a good deal of coverage, and on 11 August 1958 the branch is opened, but just how smart is this move? We are indebted to friend of the Archive Brian Moseley, for his amazing and thorough research into Ernesettle, which has turned up some surprising facts…

In Service: 11 August 1958 until 1962


Images and text

© 1958 Western Morning News/Evening Herald

Western Morning News

3 Jan 1958

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Image © Martins Bank Archive Collection

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Solving weekly budget mysteries


A bank is to be opened on Ernesettle Estate in Plymouth as a social experiment in helping residents to make the best use of their money.  This venture is among the first in the country.  Liverpool is one of the few local authorities that has developed a similar scheme. 

The idea grew in Plymouth from a chance dinner conversation between Mr T Quayle, Manager of the Plymouth branch of Martins Bank, and Mr W A Miller, chairman of the Housing Committee.   Childhood thrift and experience in the hard school of life had made Mr Miller wise in the affairs of money.  He explained to Mr Quayle his belief that the community life of Plymouth’s post-war housing estates should be developed, not only with shops churches doctors and dentist’s surgeries, but by the addition of banks.


Privacy needed


He thought many families could best discuss their affairs in the privacy of a bank manager’s office.  The idea was put to the directors of Martins Bank and they agreed with the City Council to embark on the experiment.  Ernesettle was chosen because industry is already established and Martins specialise in that sphere of banking.  Part of a block of building being erected near the central shops has been allocated.  The opening is expected in the spring.  The bank takes the view that knowledge of how to handle money successfully should be part of a progressive educational system.


Beyond Control

Thousands of pounds pass through the hands of every family in a lifetime, but where it goes often seems beyond their control.  Do they spend wisely or foolishly?  Recklessly or with prudence?  Do they invest saving profitably?  Does their money work for them?  How much should sensibly go into hire-purchase agreements for washing machines radios televisions and cars?

Many families are perplexed by the magnitude of these endless problems and actually feel their lack of expert knowledge and guidance.  That is the problem as seen by the City Council and Martins Bank. The experimental bank is thought to be an answer.


Western Morning News

19 July 1958


The “social experiment” bank on Plymouth’s Ernesettle housing estate will open for business on August 5.  It aims to show people who may never have previously regarded themselves as bank customers how to make the best use of their money.  The branch, in premises built by Plymouth City Council, is being established by Martins Bank.  The idea resulted from a chance conversation between Mr T Quayle, manager of the bank’s Plymouth branch, and Mr W A Miller of the Housing Committee.  The scheme is equally supported by the present committee chairman, Ald. H M Pattinson, who hopes that it will foster the abandonment of the “weekly” attitude towards wage and rent payments.  “We are moving into an era – it is already showing itself in other parts of the country and will be encouraged here – in which people will not budget on a weekly basis.  They will pay their rent by cheque or even by banker’s order”, Ald Pattinson said yesterday.



Such a change could have a useful effect on the administrative costs of the Housing Department. For Mr Quayle the immediate problem is to discover what kind of service the people of Ernesettle want.  If special opening hours are required, arrangements will be made to provide them.  A meeting will probably be held between representatives of the bank and the estate tenants’ association before the branch opens. The single-storey premises include a small banking hall and a manager’s office.

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Getting closer to the “working classes”…

1 January 1957 – the following is a minute from a meeting of the Standing Committee of Martins’ General Board.  It rubber stamps the Ernesettle experiment, and reveals quite a lot about the Bank’s opinion of itself and its potential new customers…

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Image © Barclays Ref 0080-0600

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We find it hard to understand why this experiment lasted only four years when the Bank had placed itself at the disposal of hundreds if not thousands of potential customers, the majority of whom would benefit from operating a bank account. Perhaps it was simply that cash really was king, and that the stereotype of someone with a bank account being a wealthy individual or businessman was too strong to break?

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More “social banking” from Martins…


Social banking begins in 1957 when, with just these few words in Martins Bank Magazine the Bank begins to offer a regular service to the housing estates at KIRKBY AND CROXTETH, which were built to house those bombed out during World War 2…

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No. 4 Mobile Branch, an articulated unit is to be used experimentally to provide normal banking services on regular days each week on certain housing estates.

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1938 to 1952 Mr T Quayle Clerk in Charge then Manager from 1949 MBM-Su67P57






Mr T Quayle

Plymouth Manager

1952 to 1967






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Index Number and District:






11-673 Ernesettle      

Sub to 11-673 Plymouth

Hornchurch Lane Ernesettle Plymouth

174 South Western

Mon and Fri 1000-1430

Saturday 0930-1130

Plymouth 31710

Counter Only

Mr T Quayle Manager (Plymouth)



11 August 1958


Opened by Martins Bank Limited