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For many members of Martins Bank’s Staff, the Company is fondly remembered as “Mungo’s Bank” in honour of Mr Mungo Conacher, the charismatic Chief General Manager who takes the reigns at the end of 1955, and leads the Bank through many of its most historic firsts and important changes.  (The caricature of Mr Conacher seen here, is drawn by a talented member of the Bank’s Staff, Mr W B Brookes, whose excellent line drawn cartoons are used in many issues of Martins Bank Magazine).  Mr Conacher’s reign is welcomed by many, and he is seen throughout, to operate with a firm hand and a kindly disposition.  We still receive comment today from staff who remember the sense of “family” that he engendered.  So what is he really like?  This question is one of several posed by Martins Bank Magazine in its Autumn 1955 issue, in a feature published to welcome Mr Conacher to his new role…

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Our New Chief General Manager…

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1940 Mr M Conacher Asst District Manager then DGM 1944 to 1946 MBM-Au46P051955 03.jpgSeemingly unimportant remarks, promptly forgotten by the speaker, are often remembered by the listener most vividly.  We remember one such remark made by our new Chief General Manager, Mr M Conacher, when we offered our congratulations on his appointment as Deputy Chief five years ago. “It’s a great opportunity” he said.  In that remark lies a clue to the character of the man who, God willing, will be in charge of the destiny of the Bank for the next decade and more.   No one knows better than he, that appointment to a great office is not the final achievement, but only the beginning.  All he has been given is the opportunity to show his worth, though at least it is an opportunity backed by the confidence and faith of his colleagues in his ability to lead well and to decide wisely.  We have watched him closely for ten years now, and have seen how legend and fairy tale have grown around him.  The things they say have probably been said about every great captain since the beginning of time: here we deal only in facts, facts culled from our own personal knowledge of him.

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What is he really like? Well, he has an uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time, of seeing at a glance the mistake which everyone else has passed.  He takes an interest in everything, whether it be the choosing of sites for new premises and their subsequent design, the examination of inspection reports, the interviewing of prominent young men or of men under consideration for appointment, the writing of the Bank’s advertisements, designing of security measures or the lending of vast sums of money. His enthusiasm is boundless, his energy prodigious and his ability to sum up his fellow men second to none.  To say that he is a shrewd banker is almost to state the obvious for without this quality he could never have aspired to his new position.  In his conduct of his own personal affairs he is strict but his somewhat austere outlook on life is relieved by a basic quality of kindness and a broad humanity which are revealed in action rather than in words for, although he has been to Ireland, he has never kissed the blarney stone.

1960 Bank dignataries meet Pegasus MBM-Sp60P10

1960: Mr Conacher meets the future!

Image : Martins Bank Archive Collections

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During his time as Chief General Manager, Mungo Conacher personally signs the

joining day/induction booklet, a personalised copy of which issued to every New Entrant to the Bank…

Image © Martins Bank Archive Collections

1955 Mr Mungo Conacher (incoming) Chief General Manager MBM-Au55P06He likes straight dealing and does not tolerate anything else, and now that he has allowed himself to be translated to that lofty and lonely eminence we know how hard he is going to find it to relinquish some of the things in which he has always taken such a keen personal interest, for he is a great believer in the necessity of having a measure of personal control in all administrative work.

211633.jpgHowever, his natural resilience will come to his aid in coping with the new responsibilities and before long we expect to hear him quoting Sir Winston Churchill’s words: “Those who are charged with the direction of supreme affairs must sit on the mountain-tops of control; they must never descend into the valleys of direct physical and personal action”. Hearty congratulations and best wishes for great tasks ahead.

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Mungo Conacher’s signature is treasured by many staff who still have their joining day booklet, and another legacy is his signature as it appears on Martins’ Isle of Man £1 notes.  Martins Bank is allowed to issue its own banknotes on the Island until 1961, and many, like this example, bear the unmistakable “mark of Mungo”.  It really is a valuable legacy too – in the Twenty-First Century these banknotes change hands for hundreds of pounds, which at the time they were first issued would have been a small fortune!

A busy retirement?

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In 1966, after a career spanning almost FIFTY years, is Mungo Conacher about to stop for a well earned rest? Well, yes, but only partly as coupled with his retirement is his appointment to the Bank’s Directorate, from where he can still keep an eagle eye on the goings on at Martins Bank.  Sadly things are about to change forever, as Martins Bank has just two years of independence left. As part of an article entitles “Changes at the Top” printed in the spring 1966 edition of Martins Bank Magazine, the Bank says farewell to Mr Conacher the Chief General Manager, and hello to its new Director…

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soon after Mr Conacher's appointment as Chief General Manager in 1955 we had occasion to propose a  toast to him in the course of which we said 'Mr Conacher and I have one thing in common—both of us have got as far as we can in the Bank.' It is good to be proved wrong once in a while and, as it happened, we were wrong in both cases. Nobody could have known then that ten years later the Chief would become a Director of the Bank and we would now be in the position of writing about his forth­coming retirement.  Much has been spoken about him in recent months as Guest of Honour at the District dinners, and the faithful recording of these tributes in the pages of the maga­zine has enabled a picture to be built up of a truly remarkable man.

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Mungo Conacher PaintingAble, shrewd, kindly but firm, with unbounded energy yet with the ability to switch off and relax at will. We could go on, but those who have spent the last decade in the Bank know all that has happened; those who have not, see the Bank as it is now. For that reason, we prefer to look forward rather than back.  Probably five of our future Chief General Managers are already in the Bank and they may read these words.  What then can they learn from the achievements of this remarkable Scot? We offer some sugges­tions: self discipline; a real interest in other people's thoughts and actions; an ability to get on with them and get the best out of them; decisiveness; determination to make a first-class job of every job, developing an eye for detail and knowing what is and what is not important; marrying someone who will be a help and never a hindrance. Above all, the ability to 'think big'.  While every Chief General Manager builds on the foundations laid by his predecessors, he nevertheless stamps his own imprint on his work and lays his own foundation for the future.   We hope that Mr Conacher will continue to serve the Bank for many years as a Director and thus witness the harvest brought in from his own sowing. And we wish him and his charming wife many years of good health, happiness and well-earned relaxation.

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This family copy of the oil painting of Mr Mungo Conacher, commissioned by Martins Bank to be hung at Head Office,

was specially photographed for Martins Bank Archive by his Grandson, David Allison, October 2015.