Craven Bank

Steeped in banking history, and once with its own distinctive currency, the hub of Craven District (originally Settle) is Skipton Branch.  In Volume 2 of FOUR CENTURIES OF BANKING © Martins Bank Limited 1968, the origins of the Craven bank are described as follows:

Four Centuries Cover “The Craven Bank was the product of a long history of financial co-operation between money men who had gradually extended their creditworthiness over a larger area until they, in their turn, became inevitably  part of a larger banking unit.  The foundation Partners of the Craven Bank in 1791 were William and John Birkbeck, William Alcock, John Peart, Joseph Smith and William Lawson. 

Their partnership helped to join in one credit area the small towns in the Craven District with which their families had been traditionally associated and in which they had pioneered rudimentary banking facilities – the Birkbecks of Settle, the Alcocks of Skipton, the Pearts of Grassington and the Lawsons of Giggleswick”

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The Craven Bank is absorbed by The Bank of Liverpool in 1906, and thus becomes part of the modern day Martins Bank.

In Service: 1791 until 7 March 2024

1960 s Skipton Exterior 7 BGA Ref 30-2665

Image © Barclays Ref 0030-2665

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Just as Kendal is still known as Wakefield Crewdson Territory, the Craven branches are given their own district of Martins Bank.  In 1965, Martins Bank Magazine calls on Skipton branch and offers this rather curious headline:

The notes with the Coo on

Craven £20

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1965 02 MBM.jpgthe history of Skipton branch is the history of the Craven Bank. The business dates from 1791 when Birkbecks Alcock & Co. opened the Craven Bank at Settle and also at Skipton where the popula­tion was barely 2,000. Today it exceeds 13,000. The original Skipton office, at the bottom of the Bailey facing the church, is now used by the Young Farmers' Club. The Birkbecks, who came from Westmorland to Settle a century before, were wool staplers, leather workers and general merchants; the Alcocks were solicitors.  William and his cousin John Birkbeck, William Alcock, John Peart, a Skipton solicitor, William Lawson of Giggleswick and Joseph Smith, a London banker, were the original partners and it is known that the Birkbecks and William Alcock had for some years been lending money against securities before any bank was opened in the area. In 1837 the Craven Bank, having already acquired the assets of Chippendale, Netherwood and Carr (the Skipton Bank) moved into their premises adjoining the present branch site which, as the offices of the Wharfedale Railway Company, was purchased in 1847 and on which our branch was built in 1860. Twenty years later the banking firm was incorporated as the Craven Bank Limited and, as Skipton had then become the chief town in the Craven District, the Head Office was moved there from Settle. The amalgamation with the Bank of Liverpool came in 1906 but in and around Skipton one will still hear our Bank referred to as the Craven Bank.

1965 Skipton staff MBM-Su65P30.jpg

The Skipton Staff

Left to right:

G. Wiseman, D. V. Smith, R. Newton, Miss A. Anderson,  Miss S. M. Oldfield,

Mrs L. Monk, Miss J. Whitton, 

M. Rhodes,  R. M. Carr,

J. Mashiter (Manager),

A. Struthers (Assistant Manager),

Miss D. Geldart, Miss B. Peacock,

Mrs E. J. Metcalfe,

B. Horn, Miss A. Tomlinson,

Miss M. Beadnall, Miss M. E. Hill

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The first General Manager was George Robinson, a militia colonel, whose eldest son, Geoffrey, changed his name to Dawson on receiving a legacy from a relative on his mother's side and later became the editor of The Times. George Robinson, with mutton-chop whiskers and heavy tweed cape and deerstalker hat, was a familiar and revered figure in the town. Although he had entered the bank as a clerk he was related to William Robinson, one of the partners. By the turn of the century the bank had 15 full offices and numerous sub branches; Welbury Kendall was Manager at Skipton and acted as A.G.M., and there was an inspector, J. H. Bramwell, whose clerk, Tom Kidd, made a loud buzzing noise when adding a column of figures.

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1960 s Skipton Interior 8 BGA Ref 30-2665

Image © Barclays Ref 0030-2665

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In those days the strong room was lit by a gas jet and had an outer and an inner door—each with three keys. Gold was in common use and as the cattle market was held in the High Street bovine entries were not uncommon in the banking hall.

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The half-yearly balance often lasted until 2 a.m. but Colonel Robinson's store cupboard was thoughtfully left unlocked on such occasions and the staff, other than juniors, refreshed themselves from the directors' stock of beer and whisky. George Robinson's successor in 1901 was J. F. Ponting, formerly Manager of the Keighley branch, whose stringent policies reduced much of the over-optimistic lending and no doubt made possible the amalgamation with the Bank of Liverpool in 1906.

The impetus of the Industrial Revolution was waning, three directors of the Craven Bank joined the board of the Bank of Liverpool: — W. Peart Robinson, Samuel Catlow and Arthur Slingsby— and for a time R. H. Gardner, Superintendent of Branches, lived in Skipton and organised the new Craven District.  Mr John Mashiter came to Skipton as Manager in 1947 after nine years in Liverpool where he had been Inspector, but he is a native of Westmorland and though his banking life began in Manchester most of his time had been spent in the north

One could fill a page with his interests and services to the community covering church, hospital, housing, drama and savings, but he is at heart a countryman, vice-president of the Skipton and District Young Farmers' Club and a member of the Skipton District Committee of the Yorks (W.R.) County Agriculture. Executive Committee. His absorption in the traditions of the Craven Bank and the area it has served so well has enabled him to provide valuable material for the Bank's history.  Like so many of our branches today, Skipton has a predominantly young but none the less capable staff. Whether young and old, those who have been there throughout the structural changes in recent years have come through them very well.

1965 Portrait of Craven Heifer in Banking Hall

The Craven Heifer

Whose glassy stare greets the customers of Skipton Branch


1960 s Skipton Interior 9 BGA Ref 30-2665

Image © Barclays Ref 0030-2665

Three years ago a tedious task was undertaken to provide a strong room extension and a staff room at the back of the office, but the subsequent com­plete reconstruction of the interior has resulted in the old office being unrecognisable though the exterior remains unchanged. One feature which particularly invites comment is the figured glass window depicting the Craven Heifer, symbol of the former Craven Bank. The Craven Heifer, an enormous beast bred by the Rev. William Carr of Bolton Abbey, achieved fame through being exhibited widely and, depicted against the ruins of Bolton Abbey, it displaced the Castleberg Rock, Settle, as a symbol on Craven Bank notes in 1817: subsequently it appeared on cheques. 'The notes with a coo on' were easily recognised, particularly by illiterates, and always accepted by the prudent in the days when many bank notes were suspect.

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The Skipton area has enjoyed its boom periods, providing clothing and food in two world wars. The textile side has declined as man-made fibres have developed but the sheep and cattle of the West Riding are very much as they used to be— except, of course, for the Craven Heifer. It seems appropriate that a man-made portrait should remain where everyone entering our branch can see it.

… and don’t forget the CHEQUES with the Coo on!


Image © Stephen Walker

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This Skipton Cheque dates from August 1930, when pride in the history of the Craven Bank is still shown through the depiction of the Craven Heifer.  As the design of Martins Bank cheques changes,  this kind of attention to the detail of history will be replaced with a ubiquitous corporate look…

Image reproduced by kind permission of K. Ellwood, V. Rowley,

and North Yorkshire County Council, Skipton Library.

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http://www.martinsbank.co.uk/11-37-30%20Birmingham%20Digbeth_files/image036.jpgIn the twenty-first Century and more than two hundred years since it was first opened, Skipton is still going strong. At time of writing, Barclays operates the Branch six days a week, and the building is in fine shape as evidenced by this lovely contemporary image taken for us in September 2018 by Friend of the Archive, Lynne Gillett.

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1960 s Skipton Exterior 7 BGA Ref 30-2665

Image © Barclays Ref 0030-2665

Image © Martins Bank Archive Collections – Lynne Gillett, September 2018


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1904 to 1906 Mr Demain Smith joined the service here MBM-Au47P19.jpg

1910 Mr C C Russell New Entrant MBM-Sp47P33.jpg

1915 to 1945 Mr W Slayden joined here became pro and asst manager MBM-Su50P11.jpg

1916 to 1918 Mr E Riddiough Joined the service here MBM-Su58P57.jpg

1918 Mr C Tindall joined the bank here MBM-Au63P59.jpg

1920 to 1935 Mr W S Moorhouse joined the bank here MBM-Wi62P53.jpg






Mr Demain Smith

Joined the Bank Here

1904 to 1906

Mr C C Russell

Joined the Bank Here


Mr W Slayden

Joined the Bank Here

1915 to 1945

Mr E Riddiough

Joined the Bank Here

1916 to 1918

Mr C Tindall

Joined the Bank Here


Mr W S Moorhouse

Joined the Bank Here

1920 to 1935






1921 Mr E D R Whittaker joined the bank here MBMAu64P54.jpg

1921 to 1929 Mr J H Spensley joined the bank here MBM-Su60P51.jpg

1927 to 1929  Mr H Dickman MBM-Au47P15.jpg

1932 to 1940 Mr L S Lucas MBM-Wi57P49.jpg

1933 Mr D Mellin joined the bank here  MBM-Sp69P57.jpg

1936 to 1937 Mr M Coates MBM-Sp65P04.jpg






Mr E D R Whittaker

Joined the Bank Here


Mr J H Spensley

Joined the Bank Here

1921 to 1929

Mr H Dickman

On the Staff

1927 to 1929

Mr L S Lucas

On the Staff

1932 to 1940

Mr D Mellin

Joined the Bank Here


Mr M Coates

On the Staff

1936 to 1937






1936 to 1947 Mr B E Jones Manager MBM-Au47P18.jpg

1940 to 1941 Mr F Bamford joined the bank here MBM-Au67P06.jpg

1940 to 1945 Mr T E Green limited signing auth MBM-Au53P51.jpg

1941 to 1943 Mr F Shuttleworth joined the bank here MBM-Su68P13.jpg

1947  to 1969 Mr John Mashiter Manager MBM-Sp69P55.jpg

1949 to 1953 Mr A S Tillotson Assistant Manager MBM-Wi64P54.jpg






Mr B E Jones


1936 to 1947

Mr F Bamford

Joined the Bank Here

1940 to 1941

Mr T E Green

Limited Authority

1940 to 1945

Mr F Shuttleworth

Joined the Bank Here

1941 to 1943

Mr John Mashiter


1947 to 1969

Mr A S Tillotson

Assistant Manager

1949 to 1953






1953 to 1955 Mr G H M Clayton Assistant Manager MBM-Au64P03.jpg

1955 to 1959 Mr E C Ellison LD Assistant Manager MBM-Sp66P05.jpg

1956 to 1960 Mr R Newton MBM-Sp69P10.jpg

1959 to 1963 Mr H Lofthouse Assistant Manager MBM-Wi68P06.jpg

1963 to 1969 Mr A Struthers Assistant Manager MBM-Sp69P09.jpg

1965 E Fewson Messenger MBM-Su65P30.jpg






Mr G H M Clayton

Asisstant Manager

1953 to 1955

Mr E C Ellison LD

Assistant Manager

1955 to 1959

Mr R Newton

On the Staff

1956 to 1960

Mr H Lofthouse

Assistant Manager

1959 to 1963

Mr A Struthers

Assistant Manager

1963 to 1969

Mr E Fewson








1966 Sheila Storr Accounts MBM-Sp66P47.jpg

1969 Mr A J Huck Assistant Manager MBM-Sp69P08.jpg

1969 Mr J M Bainbridge Manager MBM-Sp69P09.jpg






Miss Sheila Storr



Mr A J Huck

Assistant Manager

1969 onwards

Mr J M Bainbridge


1969 onwards


















Index Number and District:






Martins Bank Limited 11-90-70 Skipton

Full Branch

PO Box 1 49 High St Skipton Yorkshire

115 Craven

Mon-Fri 1000-1500 

Sat 0900-1130

Skipton 2509

Nightsafe Installed

J M Bainbridge Manager



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23 March 1906

18 December 1918

3 January 1928

15 December 1969

7 March 2024

Business established by the first partners of the Craven Bank

Branch opens at Skipton

The Bank of Liverpool

The Bank of Liverpool and Martins

Martins Bank Limited

Barclays Bank Limited 20-78-42 Skipton

Closed permanently from 12 noon

Skipton Auction Mart