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Penguin Triffids.jpgWhen Martins Bank sets up a new and larger department for share dealing and registration, the goldmine that will become Martins Unicorn is still a few years away from being acquired. It is is a bold move to take the work of the orignal department from a small office in 68 Lombard Street, to new, state of the art offices at Clements House, Gresham Street. Nevertheless, New Issues and Registrars Department arrives with a bang thanks to the floatation of Penguin Books.   Possibly the most signifcant event in the new department’s history, the Penguin share issue is hugely popular, and by the third day of trading the large queue of hopeful applicants snaking its way down Gresham Street attracts the attention of the police.  We would like to thank our friends at Barclays, for a new set of images of the department, and now read on, as Martins Bank Magazine tells the story of how “that small flightless bird” firmly established the role of New Issues and Registrars Department…

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Some Images © Barclays Ref 0030-0673. 

PLEASE NOTE: The image of the Penguin Book Title – “The Day of the Triffids” (John Wyndham, 1951), along with the Penguin device is the copyrighted property of Penguin Books Ltd.


1961 03 MBM.jpgIt was the establishment of New Issues and Registrars Department at Clements House, Gresham Street, earlier in the year that first decided us to try to tell our readers something about the work which goes on therein, but the publicity which it attracted over the spectacular Penguin issue really made the department 'hot' news.

But let us begin at the beginning. As its name implies, the work of the department falls under two headings. The Bank acts as Registrar for an imposing list of companies, and Share Registers covering many thousands of holders are maintained in the department.

1961 New Issues Dept Main Office (1) MBM-Au61P14.jpg

The Main Office at Clements House

Image © Martins Bank Archive Collections

The main work consists of:Dealing with transfers arising from market transactions. They have to be entered into or removed from the registers. The old certificates are cancelled and new ones prepared, audited and sent to the company concerned for sealing, and thereafter forwarded to the brokers lodging the transfers. Many thousands of such transfers pass through the department in the course of a year.

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1961 New Issues Dept Main Office (2) MBM-Au61P14.jpg


Another view of the Main Office

Image © Martins Bank Archive Collections

The calculation and preparation of dividend warrants for the companies concerned. Registration of probates, mandates, changes of address and so on. The sending out of notices, annual accounts and other information in connection with annual general meetings. The compilation of annual returns and lists of shareholders. All this is more or less the same routine as is observed in Head Office in our own Secretary's Department, or Share Transfer Department as it is often called, and an essential part of a Registrar's work is the maintenance of an efficient addressing system. As in Head Office, there is an addressograph plate for every holding and a new one has to be prepared for a new holding or the existing one taken out when a sale takes place. Likewise, changes of address and mandate instructions have to be altered on the plates.

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The difference between Head Office Secretary's Department and New Issues and Registrars Department is that the one is concerned with the Bank's own shares, whereas the other does the same kind of work for a fee for other companies. The Registrars section started in 1946 and has grown steadily, Penguin Books being one of the latest registrarships to be undertaken. The New Issues Section came into being in 1934 with a basic staff of two. The section handles all types of new issue work on behalf of customers of the Bank, including public offers for sale, rights issues, bonus issues, take-overs, placings, etc. Last year 22 new issues of various kinds were handled. This year, up to the half year, 18 had been or were being handled. The staff of the department covering both sections of the work is 45, of which 26 are men and 19 women, and as the work is inter-related one side is often called in to assist the other. This brings us to the Penguin issue. Some idea of the magnitude of this job can be gained from the figures. The staff had to be increased temporarily to over 400 to deal with some 150,000 applications for shares.

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The Entrance and Reception Area

Images © Barclays Ref 0030-0673

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The rigidity of the schedule in these operations inevitably involves a lot of late work. In the case of the Penguin issue, for example, where 690,000 shares were on offer, some 150,000 separate applications, accompanied by cheques, were received, amounting to over £67,000,000, the issue being over-subscribed 150 times. The applications began to pour in on April 25th and the allotment had to be made and unsuccessful applications returned so that dealings on the Stock Exchange could commence on May 1st. But let us look for a moment at the mechanics of this particular exercise, as the pattern is the same for any offer for sale though the volume will vary. On the first day the ordinary staff of the department, augmented by 20 relief staff, took until midday to open the post. In the afternoon the applications, 18,324 of them, for over 12 million shares, were sorted, and in the evening, it took a staff of 20 to summarise them.

1961 Queue for the Penguin Issue April 1961 MBM-Au61P15.jpg


By the third day of the Penguin Issue, queues formed in Gresham

Street, causing the police to complain that it was an obstruction

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In other words, the issue was over-subscribed 18 times two days before the List officially opened. On the second day there were 17 sacks of mail. Opening started at 8 a.m., with about the same staff as on the first day. After 9 a.m., further staff were called in from Lombard Street and local branches to continue opening the post, a job which lasted until 1 p.m. Sorting then commenced, additional sacks of mail which kept arriving being held over until the evening. An additional staff of 40 were occupied all afternoon and evening until 10 p.m., sorting. On this day 54,000 applications were dealt with, the issue now being over-subscribed 82 times. On the third day the staff started work at 7.30 a.m., with 30 additional staff opening 26 sacks of mail from 8 a.m. After 9 a.m., the number of staff had to be increased to 120 and between 9 and 10a.m., the counter was extremely busy with a queue into Gresham Street which caused a complaint from the police that an obstruction was being caused. At this stage, owing to the volume of applications received, sorting into denominations was discontinued and applications were put into bundles of approximately 500 in each bundle. This work continued until 9 p.m. On the fourth day, April 28th, the inevitable ballot took place for the 3,450 applications which were all that could succeed. This was conducted by a Notary Public He brought two of his own staff and needed 20 of ours.

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1961 At the Counter on the day of the Penguin Issue MBM-Au61P15.jpg

The queue for the Penguin Issue as seen from behind the counter

He started work at 1 p.m., and finished the main part by 5 p.m., leaving a member of his staff until 7.30 p.m., to deal with queries. The rest of our staff worked late preparing for the work to be done the following day. On Saturday, April 29th, the staff worked until 9.30 p.m., in connection with the clearing of cheques, preparation of the Letters of Acceptance, and return of cheques to the unsuccessful applicants. In addition to the staff at Clements House, 187 were engaged at Lombard Street in returning application forms and cheques together with a letter of regret to the unsuccessful applicants. On Sunday, April 30th the work continued, with the staff of the department working at Clements House, 200 working at Lombard Street and 150 at Gracechurch Street finishing off the letters, bagging them and getting them into the Sunday afternoon post.

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That the work was completed on time was due in large measure to the co-operation received from the staff of the department and the many volunteers, including non-clerical staff, who worked willingly and well during the whole period, and the expedition with which the work was carried out aroused favourable comment in the City and brought a complimentary letter from Sir Allen Lane, Chairman of Penguin Books. And what of the men who organise and run the work of this department?

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The Manager is Mr. F. V. Donne, and it is interesting to note that he and Sir Allen Lane both commenced their banking experience with Cocks Biddulph branch in the old days (on opposite sides of the counter, of course). Mr. Donne started there as a junior in 1928.  In 1939 he went to Swanley and from 1940-45 he was in the R.A.F., as a wireless instructor for the greater part of the time. On demobilisation he went to Bruton Street, being appointed Pro Manager there in 1948. He became a visiting Inspector at London District Office in 1955 and was appointed Manager of New Issues and Registrars Department in 1958.  To help him he has Mr. W. Cowan as Pro Manager with full signing authority, and Mr. W. Hanson, Mr. L. H. Wilson and Mr. H. G. F. Bartlett as Pro Managers with internal authority.

1961 Staff Group at Clements House MBM-Au61P13.jpg

1961 - New Issues and Registrars Department


Front Row (left to right}: D J Hack G L Barrett K A Williamson

H G F Bartlett Miss K M Powell L H Wilson Miss A Pretty Mr F V Donne (Manager) Mrs P A Wilson

W Cowan Miss P A Longstaff  E J A Salmon P J L Drummond M V Stevenson N C R Lee  Second Row:

A Whitmey Miss E M Edwards G C Walls Miss M K Morton N S Wise Miss M Holland D A F Sonfield

Miss P J Woodward  J R Howard Miss P Baker H W Cowlev Miss J A Reid J P Massey Miss A E Watson

J I Holt Third Row: I) M Ward Miss M C Dawson RJ Heaton Mrs I Jackson D A Mitchell Miss D Jones

J L M Short Mrs J Wiles D H Barrett Miss M Wallers N Stuart Fourth Row: R  Elliott C Allen

Miss E M Cussen Mrs L Abley  Miss R P Herbert A L Hill Miss P Friend  Mrs P P Winner I D Williams

T Jones (The group includes some extra staff drafted in from other Districts)

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The senior lady members of the staff of the department are Mrs. Patricia Wilson in the New Issues Section, Miss Ann Pretty, who is the Manager's Secretary, Miss Kathleen Powell in the Registrars' Section, and Miss Patricia Longstaff who is in charge of the Addressograph Section.All this is a side of banking with which most of us have no contact, but the story of the Penguin issue contains a lesson for us all—that working as a cheerful, willing team with the example of fair-minded and efficient leadership before us, there is really nothing we cannot tackle. At the time of writing, in addition to normal Registrars work, the department is engaged in dealing with and preparing for seven Rights Issues, one Debenture Stock Placing, an Offer for Sale, two Bonus Issues, a Capital Reorganisation involving a Share exchange and cash payment, and one Take­over operation.

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Mr Donne takes his leave…

When Mr Donne retires after forty-one years with the Bank – the last eleven of those as manager of New Issues and Registrars Department -  his friends and colleagues really do come from far and wide to Gresham House to wish him well. It appears he is liked and respected not only by his departmental colleagues, but also by his contemporaries and opposite numbers within the other clearing bankers and in industrial companies as well.  As ever, the retirement of someone of Mr Donne’s standing attracts a generous article in Martins Bank Magazine – as we now read below – taken from the very last edition of the Magazine before Barclays’ own version “Spread Eagle” takes over…

The occasion of Mr Donne's retirement as Manager of the New Issues and Registrars Division of the Trust Company on 31 July brought to Clements House some 150 friends and colleagues. These included Mr L. J. Walton, Mr D. G. Hanson, Mr W. E. Turnbull, and many representatives of the companies whose registrarships are undertaken by the Trust Company, one company secretary having travelled nearly 300 miles. After Mr and Mrs Donne had welcomed their guests to the informal party, Mr Hanson paid tribute lo Mr Donne's long and distinguished career, making particular reference to the tremendous growth of New Issues and Registrars Department during the past eleven years under his able management.

Mr Donne's 41 years' service had all been spent in London District, with five years in H.M. Forces. Although he had requested no formal presentation his many friends were unable to let the occasion pass without giving tangible expression to the affection and regard felt for him, and Mr Hanson presented him with a silver hors d'oeuvres dish, a cheque and a book of signatures. Mrs Donne received a bouquet and a leather notecase. In his speech of thanks Mr Donne expressed gratitude for the support given to him at all levels, citing as an example the weekend when 450 staff came to work at short notice on a particularly active new issue. The previous week Mr Donne had been presented with a pair of silver candelabra when he lunched with the registrars of several clearing banks and industrial companies.





1954 Mr N L T Price Pro Manager MBM-Au54P51.jpg

1965 EJA Salmon pro Manager MBM-Su65P08.jpg

1965 Mr LH Wilson pro Manager then asst manager 1968 MBM-Su65P05.jpg

1965 to 1968 Mr W Cowan Assistant Manager MBM-Su68P51.jpg

1966 Mr MV Stevenson pro Manager New Issues Dept MBM-Sp66P07.jpg

Mr N L T Price

Pro Manager

1954 (Lombard St)

Mr E J A Salmon

Pro Manager


Mr H G F Bartlett

Pro Manager


Mr L H Wilson

Pro then Asst Manager

1965 onwards

Mr W Cowan

Assistant Manager

1965 to 1968

Mr M V Stevenson

Pro Manager


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1967 Mr ESP Watts Assistant Manager MBM-Au67P06.jpg

1968 Mr AML Miller pro Manager MBM-Su68P49.jpg

Mr E S P Watts

Assistant Manager


Mr A M L Miller

Pro Manager


Mr F V Donne


1958 to 30/07/1969




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Department Title:






Martins Bank Limited New Issues and Registrars Department

Head Office Department originally based at 68 Lombard St London

PO Box 47 Clements House 14/18 Gresham St London E C 2

01 626 6568

Mon to Fri 1000-1500

Mr F V Donne (Retired 1969)