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Lancashire and Yorkshire Bank

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It doesn’t look like much, does it    an outhouse perhaps, or someone’s coal shed – so raggedly practical it really needs no frills at all to provide a service to the many and varied breeders and buyers of cattle that make their way to York Cattle Market.   Maybe the wind whistles through cracks in the walls and window frames – dare we assume the presence of electric light?  Whatever it looks like, Martins Bank’s York Cattle Market Branch is still held in warm affection by those  Staff who were lucky enough to work there. 

Be warned though, set out below is a very LONG tale indeed, but the reward comes in staying with it to the end.  The story – and history – of York Cattle Market Branch is epic, and is one of the longest articles written about a Branch by Martins Bank Magazine.  We have been asked on numerous occasions to reproduce it, so at last, here goes. 

In Service: Pre 1922 until February 1970


Image © Barclays Ref 0033-0932

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From “luck money” to a complete abandonment of banking rules (even the holy grail of checking the identity of a customer with something as basic as his signature) come with us now to York Cattle Market. Enjoy…

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1954 03 MBM.jpg“Sixteen at sixty-two and double luck to Mr.-” That is a sample of the conversation one hears at the counter of our Cattle Market branch in the City of York. Spoken in a Southern Irish accent which gets harder to follow as the day wears on, such conversations are a sharp reminder to those of us who spend our lives in the gentler atmosphere of Cocks Biddulph branch, London; Church Street, Liverpool; at one of the Southport branches, Harrogate and a hundred equally refined branches that here is something different. This is banking in the raw, banking with the gloves off, banking without recourse to anyone “round the back”. There is no question of retiring to consult the manager, no question of ringing up District Office. The men who run the Cattle Market business have got to know their stuff; they have to know the local farmers and the hard-bitten Irish dealers who, though they may (and do) commence their day with a visit to the nearby church to invoke success on their labours, will also visit The Spotted Cow at frequent intervals in the course of the thirsty job of selling their cattle and are, at settling time, not infrequently in need of skilled assistance and persistence in arriving at the final settlement. This is no place for the man whose bible is the Bank's Book of Instructions.

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To the wrong man it is a nightmare branch in which large cash payments are habitually made against uncleared cheques, where money is handed out without a receipt or signature of any kind being obtained, where suspended items await indefinitely the next call of the gentleman concerned, or a remittance through the post; where the counter cash books are full of items in respect of which no tangible voucher can ever be produced, and the remaining records are in the form of bundles of dog-eared slips of paper. Yet this must be the only branch which has never made a bad debt, where the half-yearly profit is made without any balance work, where the fixed and acknowledged charge for services rendered is the same for every customer, who knows it, agrees to it, and pays it every Thursday.

1959 - An Irish Drover receives his “luck money” from Mr F M Walker

 at the counter of York Cattle Market Branch

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If you want to know the truth of the statement, often quoted in the textbooks, that mutual trust is the basis of all business, go to Cattle Market branch and see it in operation. It may be most deplorable and upsetting from the point of view of the Chief Inspector or the Chief Accountant, but the system works and always has worked and unless and until something goes wrong it suits everybody and nowhere does the name of the Bank stand higher than in this dingy little office beside the cattle pens amid the sound and smell of animals and the hoarse shouts of the drovers. Well, the cattle with which our branch are mainly concerned are Irish cattle, all bullocks, which are sold to the farmers of Yorkshire and the surrounding counties, for stock purposes. Ultimately they will be fattened and killed for beef.

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Someone who is highly skilled in the unorthodox:


“After all that has been written it will, therefore, be obvious why the Bank considered it a good stroke of business to employ Mr. Frederick Bryan on his retirement from the railway service, to help with the running of this highly skilled and unusual form of banking”.



The Woodside branch, Birkenhead, is also concerned with Irish cattle, but Woodside takes cows for immediate slaughter. We had other Cattle Market branches at one time, and now that the meat market is free again these might someday be revived. The cattle for York are shipped from Ireland once a week and sold every Thursday. Many of the Irish dealers come over from Dublin and return after the close of the Market. Some live locally, some are dealers on their own account and some are only agents, empowered to sell but not to settle—hence the outstanding debit items in the branch Suspense Account. The Market opens at 10 a.m. and the cattle of each dealer are driven into separate pens as they arrive. The farmers who feel competent to judge a good beast drift in during the morning and have a look round. A farmer who is not very confident of his own judgment may get a fellow farmer to buy for him or he may employ a “Guinea man” to do the buying, on commission.

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These guinea men are neither farmers nor dealers but simply cattle experts who make a living on commission, collected alike from the farmers for whom they are acting and the dealers to whom they have introduced the business. The cattle are driven out of their pens by the drovers and made to show their paces and, after some bargaining, the price is signified as agreed by the smiting of hands. As soon as the price is determined the “luck” is decided upon.

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Luck is the trade term for a discount which the buyer is allowed to subtract from the agreed price. Ordin­ary luck is a shilling a beast, double luck is two shillings. Frequently, however, luck is agreed at £1, or £5 according to the keenness of the bargaining or for a variety of reasons which suit the dealer.

Some of the discounts may be five or even twenty times as much as the "ordinary" luck and on a big deal discount might be more generous still. The best beasts are sold in the morning but many farmers will hold off until the afternoon, knowing that a dealer may prefer to let animals go cheap rather than pay for their keep for another week. The meaning, then, of our opening sentence is that a dealer has sold sixteen bullocks at £62 per head and agreed to allow the buyer to deduct £1 12s.—from £992 by way of double the ordinary discount.

1954 Mr Bryan and Farmers at York Cattle Martket MBM-Au54P21.jpg

Mr Bryan passes the time of day with Mr Gould, a well-known dealer. 

On the left, a farmer, Mr C E Hopwood, Looks on…

In this example the dealer has brought his customer into the bank and introduced him, being a stranger to us.Normally we would not see the dealer until later in the day but the farmer himself would come in and tell us he had bought the cattle, that double luck had been agreed and we would pay him the £1 12s.—which the dealer pays, the farmer making his cheque out for the full amount. The first thing we have to do on opening the branch is to go and see the railway people in their office next door and pay the freight charges on all the cattle arriving from Ireland. We then see by the various Delivery Notes how many beasts are coming and on whose account. We make out an account for each dealer concerned, sometimes as many as fifteen, and the first entry—freight for each consignment—is entered thereon. Then the Corporation of York has to be paid for the hire of the pens, and maybe for lairage and keep if cattle have been held over from one week to the next. Someone will also have to be paid for the straw in the pens, for the fodder, and there will be wages for the drovers and others concerned with the handling of the cattle.

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A whole street of Banks from which to choose!  Midland Barclays and District Bank all competing for business with Martins…

Image © Barclays Ref 0033-0932

Odd individuals pop in and ask for various sums of money and all are paid without question, without a signature and without recourse. Sometimes genuine mistakes are made owing to misunderstandings: then the amount overpaid is suspended until it can be recovered, as it always is. As the day wears on the dealers' accounts contain half-a-dozen entries in respect of various sums disbursed by the Bank, and on the credit side a note of the cheques received from the farmers as they come in and settle. It is a custom that the farmer hands over his cheque book for the cashier to fill in the amount of the cheque, placing the Bank stamp on the "payee" line—another practice frowned upon in ordinary branch banking.  When it is obvious from the visits paid by the various farmers to draw their luck that all the beasts belonging to a particular dealer have been sold, the job then is to find the dealer and get him to agree to all the items in respect of which the Bank has paid out, the various " luck " payments, drovers' wages, straw, lairage, keep, rent of pens, rail charges and lastly, the Bank's commission on the total turnover. On securing his agreement, a Bank draft is issued on the Bank of Ireland for the balance, though the uncleared cheques do not leave the main branch until the next day. Usually the settlement is easy, but sometimes the dealer, for reasons already mentioned, may find fault and, his temper upset, may emphasise his point by banging a big stick on the counter. It's no good ringing up Head Office, the cashier has to deal with the matter himself.

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During the same visit, Martins Bank Magazine

calls at York Branch to meet the staff,

some of whom have worked at the

Cattle Market sub branch:

Mr J Barrett, Miss M Tomlinson, Mr Brian Sills,

Mr S Hodge and Miss J W Allen.







e-mail: [email protected]




After all that has been written it will, therefore, be obvious why the Bank considered it a good stroke of business to employ Mr. Frederick Bryan on his retirement from the railway service, to help with the running of this highly skilled and unusual form of banking. Mr. Bryan entered the service of the Bank in 1943 after over twenty years' service at the Cattle Market railway office, and over 40 years' service with the London and North Eastern Railway altogether.

He knows all the farmers and all the dealers and his knowledge of market procedure is second to none. Now, at the age of 75, he is leaving us for well-earned retirement and the reason for visiting the Cattle Market branch at York in August was because the resulting article is intended to be a sort of acknowledgment of all he has done for the Bank and a ' thank you ' for all he has been to us.  It can be said without any fear of contradiction that no one has been prouder of his con­nection with Martins Bank than Mr. Bryan and when he leaves us at the end of September he will take with him our warmest good wishes for a long and happy retirement. Incidentally, Mr. Bryan has represented Stamford Bridge on the Pocklington Rural District Council for many years and is still going strong.  Not the least of the services he has rendered has been the very efficient training of the men who are considered suitable to handle this rugged business. First among them is Stanley Hodge, who signs the daily drafts and can handle any situation as well as Mr. Bryan himself. We were impressed, Irish blarney apart, with the obvious regard in which he is held on the Market and we have no doubt that his gifts will find room for wider expression in due course.

He entered the Bank in 1935 at Leeds and apart from war service from 1940 to 1946 has previously served at Brighouse, Leeds District Office and Westgate, Huddersfield. John Barrett, though a young man is an old friend of ours. He came with us on the Bank tours to Switzerland in 1949 and Italy in 1951 and his father's managership will long be remembered in Yorkshire. John, too, is entering into the spirit od Cattle Market business and his height and appearance are two most valuable assets for a young businessman working in such conditions. It was not our first visit to York.

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We visited the branch for the Magazine in September 1949 when Mr. J. A. McGregor was manager, but no one at present on the staff was there on the occasion of our previous visit and so we felt less guilty than we might otherwise have done at paying a second visit to a branch when there are so many branches which have not yet received one. But, after all, one can hardly visit a sub branch without calling in at the parent office!

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We were most cordially received by Mr. Brian Sills, m.b.e., manager since 1953. We had previously met him at Leeds Office and at various social functions and it was very pleasant to renew old acquaintance. Mr. Sills entered the Bank in 1924 at Leeds and served at Pontefract, Bradford, Shipley and Manningham (Bradford), Leeds City Office and District Office before being made an Inspector in 1946, and Assistant Manager at Sheffield in 1947 until his present appointment. During the war he served with H.M. Forces throughout the Italian campaign. The two girls are Miss Maureen Tomlinson, whom we had not previously met and Miss Jean W. Allan whom we met at one of the Leeds District dinners. The remaining member of the York staff is Mr. E. E. Tipple who, though a Yorkshireman, has served the Bank principally in the London District, and has been compelled for family reasons to return to the North, Our visit was made on August 4th and 5th and we count it as quite one of the most interesting and rewarding experiences we have had.













1940 to 1949 Mr R G Kippax Signing Auth MBM-Su65P59.jpg

1954 Mr JR Barrett MBM-Au66P06.jpg

1954 Miss J W Allen MBM-Au54P23.jpg

1954 Mr Frederick Bryan MBM-Au54P21.jpg

1954 Mr S Hodge MBM-Au54P23.jpg

1954 Miss M Tomlinson MBM-Au54P23.jpg

Mr R G Kippax

Signing Authority

1940 to 1949

Mr J R Barrett

On the Staff

1952 to 1960

Miss J W Allen

On the Staff


Mr Frederick Bryan

On the Staff


Mr S Hodge

On the Staff


Miss M Tomlinson

On the Staff


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1957 to 1967 Mr AC Cantrell MBM-Wi67P05.jpg

1959 Mr FM Walker Clerk in Charge MBM-Su67P02.jpg

1965 to 1970 Julian Taylor Relief staff.jpg

BW Logo

BW Logo

BW Logo

Mr A C Cantrell

On the Staff (York)

1957 to 1967

Mr F M Walker

Clerk in Charge

1955 to 1959

Mr Julian Taylor

Relief Staff

1965 to 1970




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Index Number and District:






11-77-90 York Cattle Market

Sub to 11-77-90 York

Cattle Market York Yorkshire

615 Leeds

Mon 1200-1330  Thurs 1000 until one hour

after Cattle Market closes. No Saturday Service

York 24290

Nightsafe Installed

Mr D M Douglas Manager (York)




Pre 1922


15 December 1969

February 1970

Lancashire and Yorkshire Bank

Martins Bank Limited

Barclays Bank Limited 20-99-51 York Cattle Market


York Coney Street


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Cattle Market Branches Banner

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