That Martins Bank has Branches at TEN university sites throughout England by 1969, does not come about overnight.  Students are the professional classes of tomorrow, likely to have a large income, AND the need to have that income looked after by a bank. The concept of Student Banking is the brainchild of Mr William T Green (pictured, right) a member of the Bank’s Staff in Liverpool, who becomes the Assistant Manager of the first University Branch opened in Liverpool (pictured, far right) in 1958.  He has the original idea in 1956, but operational constraints mean that the Bank cannot progress with opening a branch for a further two years. The fight for representation on University campuses is fierce, and often made more difficult by the Universities’ own bankers who, invariably, are given first choice over prime customer sites.  In this feature we will look at what Martins Bank has to offer to students, against the background of the story of how the Bank – against a number of odds – works for nearly FIVE YEARS to secure one of only two prime retail sites at LANCASTER UNIVERSITY in the 1960s, a Branch that along with a Liverpool University Branch (moved to the campus itself in 1967), stays open until January 2021.

The new bank at Liverpool University attracts the attention of the Architect and Building News, which publishes this spread once work is complete – the Branch itself is a renovated former shop, and as Martins sees university banking as something of an experiment, the whole thing is put together with the cheapest fixtures and fittings available that will serve as a bank, yet still attract the “tomorrow people” that Martins wants as its customers.


A bright idea…

Student Banking, through the provision of on-or-near-campus facilities is suggested to the Bank as early as 1956 by William T Green.  Mr Green, who joined the bank in 1947, has made good progress, working his way through the Institute of Bankers Examinations, and building a reputation as someone who keeps both the operational needs of the bank, and the needs of its customers firmly and fairly balanced. Thanks to his Daughter Fiona, we are able to reproduce here a number of letters which chart the setting up of Liverpool University as the first student service branch, and which show that good ideas from members of the staff are taken seriously.  Mr Green is given the job of Branch Second, and works his way up to a full “Pro Manager” signing position which allows him to fully deputise for the role of bank manager…

Images © Martins Bank Archive Collections – F Winter


From Mr Green’s initial suggestion, which was sent into the Bank in October 1956, it takes about nineteen months for the Bank to be able carry the idea to fruition, with the opening on 1 May 1958 of Liverpool University sub-branch.

It is interesting to note from the Bank’s initial response in 1956, that Martins Bank’s expansion programme is quote “overloaded”, as the business is pushing hard into areas of England and Wales to create a more national distribution of outlets.

In the letter, Mr J A Banks talks optimistically of “breaking fresh ground”, yet despite this large financial commitment, he thanks Mr Green for his initiative, and promises to keep him advised of the development of a University Branch. 

Sure enough, in January 1958 the Bank writes once more to let Mr Green know that such a branch is very much on the cards within a few months, and Mr Green, keen to be in at the start of this exciting new venture, wastes no time in sending his suggestions for how it all might come together, AND work in practice. 

By the end of April 1958, he is rewarded by the offer of occupying the “second position” at the new Branch, a job which at that point in time was broadly equivalent to that of an Assistant Manager. Finally, after more than nine years at Liverpool University he is promoted again and thanked for his “good work at this this specialised Branch”.



Staking a claim ...

1969 Lancaster University Exterior BGA Ref 33-317-2Martins Bank learns much from its early involvement with Britain’s newest Universities in the late 1950s. Careful monitoring of student banking habits at Liverpool University provides valuable information, both on the ways in which students conduct their accounts, and, more importantly, on the costs that will be involved to Martins in providing free banking and maintaining local Branches at further and future  Universities.   As the 1960s progress, and more new red brick and concrete establishments of learning are brought into being, a policy begins to emerge, where universities restrict the sole or main use of banking outlets on their grounds to those that act as their bankers.  This is certainly the situation at Lancaster, where Martins spends almost five years staking a claim to being able to offer its services to students. 

The District Bank, has a very strong local presence and its role as Lancaster University’s banker means it already has its feet firmly under the table. On top of this,  the University is itself keen to choose a bank that knows and reflects the locality. However, Martins Bank also fits the bill by having a blanket coverage of local branches and undisputed Northern roots – and it will not take the situation lying down! 


The process of wooing the University authorities at Lancaster begins in 1963, even before the University receives its charter, and it culminates in the successful establishment of a branch alongside the District Bank in the main shopping area of the University – Alexandra Square.  Along the way Martins encounters the usual suspects – low key introductions to high profile personnel on both sides, followed by offers of dining out, and then more formal meetings.   Martins’ original overtures to the University seem to pay off, and they are informally offered a place.  However the whole process is then turned on its head by a tendering process, which the University feels will make it all look fair, and Martins must bid along with the other banks for what is in reality just one place – the other destined almost certainly go to the District Bank.  That Martins Bank is successful – (at what is understood to have been an incredibly heavy initial price) - goes without saying and the branch that it still serving students at Lancaster more than forty five years later, is opened first in temporary premises in 1966, and then in its current shop front outlet in Alexandra Square in 1968.  

Researching the Student Market…

1962 Mr W O Davies Liverpool Assistant District General Manager MBM-Su62P05

Mr W O Davies

We are indebted to our friends at BARCLAYS GROUP ARCHIVES  for their research on our behalf into the Martins’ Branch at Lancaster University, and for making a number of key records available to us for this feature.  We begin in August 1963 when Mr W O Davies, Liverpool Assistant District General Manager, writes to Mr I Buchanan, Liverpool District General Manager, to make the case for actively pursuing University outlets for the Bank. Research has shown that almost as soon as new Universities are announced, the fight begins amongst the Banks and others, including insurance companies, to access the student market.  Mr Davies wants his boss to understand how crucial it will be for Martins to build on the success of its Liverpool University branch, and try for a place at Lancaster…

1962 Mr Ian Buchanan Liverpool District General Manager MBM-Su62P05

Mr I Buchanan

14 August 1963 WOD to IB

Image © Barclays Ref 0025-0613a

“We have recently been making enquiries into the possibility of opening Branches in the precincts of new universities which are in course of being established.  In the case of two Universities in the South of England it has been found that Barclays Bank as Bankers to each University had received the right to establish a Branch within the precincts and that representation was not being extended to other Banks. Such arrangements clearly give Barclays the opportunity of obtaining valuable future customers to the exclusion of the other Banks.

We are anxious to establish whether similar arrangements may apply in the case of other new Universities, and we should be glad if you would ascertain as discreetly as possible the opportunities for representation that will arise in the case of the new University at Lancaster in so far as establishing a Branch within the precincts is concerned? or whether sole representation is likely to be granted to the Bankers to the University”

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Two days later, Mr Davies writes again, this time to Mr L G Tunnah, Assistant General Manager at Head Office, with an update on what is a fast moving situation:


“Further to my letter of the 14th instant, I am now able to report that at a recent meeting of the authorities in Lancaster it was decided that the banking business of the new University would be placed with the District Bank.


By tactful lobbying in advance our Manager had solicited the support of several members of the local Education Committee on our behalf but it seems that the matter was virtually a fait accompli when it came before the meeting.


With the hold they already have in the County, both at Lancaster and Preston, it is evident that the dice was fairly heavily loaded in favour of the District Bank.


We have asked Mr. Young to keep this matter well in mind, and he will advise us should any possible opportunities present themselves for our obtaining representation within the University precincts”.


16 Aug 63 WO Davies to I Buchanan

Image © Barclays Ref 0025-0613a


A Fait accompli…

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As feared, the competition - in the form of the District Bank - has won the right to be Bankers to the University.  This will guarantee them a retail outlet on the new campus when it opens.   Between 1963 and 1966, Martins Bank’s Lancaster Manager, Mr Youdell (pictured, right) has the job of keeping on the friendliest terms with the University, and remaining vigilant to any news that another retail outlet may be up for grabs.  His “tactful lobbying” is much appreciated by Liverpool District Office, and it will eventually bear fruit – rather expensive fruit: After much deliberation, two banking units are proposed in the main shopping area of the University, and these are put out to tender.  Wisely, the University wants to be seen as fair, and to attract the highest bidder for the two leases.  The price paid must be the same for both winning banks, which means that although the District Bank will be one of those winners, it too, will be expected to dig extremely deep for the privilege.

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Doing the maths

January 1964.jpgSep 1.jpg

Having secured its place at University, Martins Bank must now make the venture it pay for itself in the long term.  Even as long ago as 1963, the cost per student to Martins of offering free banking seems very high at £15.  That’s - £245 per student based on the increase in retail prices over the fifty years between 1963 and 2013, or £540 per student if based on average earnings over the same period!   There is no doubt that the long-term advantages are good – a graduate who becomes a high earning professional is likely to need to call upon the Bank’s financial expertise. The facts and figures are mulled over by top brass of the Bank, who are presented with this feasibility paper in January 1964…

1.      So far we can measure the success and the cost of our university branch programme, only by our

 Liverpool experience.

2.      We cannot expect to be as successful in attracting undergraduate accounts in other places as we have been in Liverpool.

3.      We have obtained in Liverpool about 400 undergraduate accounts per annum and, of these, we can expect to retain, say, 250 after graduation either at the branch or at other branches.

4.      Our loss will probably persist in the £3,000 per annum range plus, say, share of special advertising £1,000 per annum. So it is costing £4,000 to get 250 graduate accounts - say, £15 upwards per account.

5.      I would be prepared to regard this as a worthwhile expenditure to obtain the accounts of this type of person.

6.      We should continue our policy of opening branches to serve universities and where- existing branches place us at disadvantage to other banks by reason of location we should consider special university sub or full branches.

7.      It is open for investigation in particular cases whether the best result would be obtained by being in the university precincts or in a situation convenient for students but also available to the public.

8.      We should enquire of all branches in university towns

                        (a) The average number per annum of undergraduates obtained as customer (show male/female separately).

                        (b) Proportion who remain with:-

                                    (i) the branch 

                                    (ii) other branches of the bank after  graduation (male/female separately)

                        (c) Whether they recommend any special facilities, e.g. new sub branch.

           We should co-ordinate our publicity efforts with the activities of relative branch managers

           who should be more fully aware of what is being done.

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Moving in…


1968 LU Exterior Tour by Princess Alexandra July MBM-Au68P44.jpgTo begin with, Lancaster University itself is based at St Leonard’s Gate in the centre of the City. Thanks to the gentle persuasion of Lancaster Manager Mr Youdell, a room is made available from 18 October 1966 for Martins Bank to offer banking services to students, Monday to Friday, between 12 noon and 3pm.  Princess Alexandra is appointed Chancellor of Lancaster University in 1964, and remains in this position for the next forty years.  The permanent buildings are finished and occupied in 1968, and the main thoroughfare and shopping area is named “Alexandra Square” in honour of the Princess.   On a tour of the new University, she is photographed looking through the windows of the new branch.  Martins Bank has arrived, and five years of effort have paid off.  Lancaster University sub-Branch is upgraded quite quickly to Self Accounting status, with its own sorting code and a clerk in charge available to make on the spot decisions on student lending.  The following year, Lancaster University Branch is given its own newspaper publicity (see “1969– How to make your money go further…” below) . . .


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1961-4 My Bank’s Martins…

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1965 Carlisle Students Advert.jpgMartins goes to extremes to help students and young workers make the most of their limited budgets. These are the days of the student grant, a precious commodity that has to be eked out in baked beans, beer and rolled up tobacco over the year… The names of Managers and their contact details are prominently displayed, and staff at Martins Bank’s University Branches are trained to help students stretch out their grant, or tide them over with a student overdraft.   From 1961 to 1964 Martins Bank’s advertising strategy employs the services of some “decent sorts” for a campaign that should convince their fellow students that using a bank is the right thing to do.  Perhaps keeping your money in a sock has finally been recognised as a bad move.

1961 Martins Liverpool University Pantecho 1 BGA No Ref

1961 Martins Leicester University Students Handbook Advert

1961 Martins. University and Technical College Advert

1961 Martins Oxford and Leeds Universities Magazines Advert

1962 3 Martins University Advert Cambridge Liverpool and Birmingham

TOP ROW left to right


1961 Liverpool University Student Magazine ‘PantEcho’

1961 Leicester University Student Handbook

1961 Freshmen’s Guide to Teacher Training College and The Technical College Freshmen’s Guide



BOTTOM ROW left to right


1961 Student Publications at Leeds and Oxford

1962/3 The Cambridge University Students’ Union Varsity Handbook, 1963 “Sphincter” the Liverpool University Medical School Magazine. 1962/3 The Birmingham University Guild of Undergraduates’ Handbook.

Images © Barclays


1968 - Making the most of your money

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Even on the eve of the merger, Martins is still going all out to grab a slice of the student market.  Making the Most of Your Money, and About a Bank Account are among the last to be seen before the ubiquitous “a member of the Barclays Group” starts to infiltrate publications.

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1965 Student Advert 'Money for leisure too' MBM-Au65P20.jpg

1968 GenericStudent Advert

Images © Martins Bank Archive Collections

Image © Barclays

The swinging sixties gives Martins the opportunity of a lifetime – to cash in at last on the valuable youth banking market.  Advertisements aimed at students and young wage earners send out the simple message that help is at hand, and that what little money these people have is also SAFE. By March 1969, adverts such as the mid sixties campaigns ‘Counting Up’ and ‘Money for leisure, too’ have given way to the slightly bolder ‘How to make your money go further’, (see earlier in this feature) which is carefully calculated to play upon students’ fears that everyone is out to take their money, and that only a bank can make sense of it all. The key selling point for these services is to show how they give control back to the customer. Such control is however about to change hands forever, as at the height of this campaign, the takeover of Martins Bank by Barclays is almost complete…

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Advertising to Students

Image © Barclays





For 1968 a new advertisement has been designed, relating more closely to the special leaflets produced by the Bank for students. It will appear in general student publications and, mainly during the Autumn Term, in the student newspapers and magazines of Universities with a Branch of the Bank nearby.




Special contractors install these free of charge in many educational establishments, the cost being met by the sale of advertising space on or adjacent to them.  In consultation with District Offices, they are used to advertise the services of local Branches in some 300 universities, colleges and schools.


By the mid to late 1960s the Bank has a co-ordinated plan for attracting the custom of students. Fundamental to the campaign are these special leaflets produced each year by the Bank in time for university freshers’ week. Whether there is a Martins Bank Branch on campus or not, there is a leaflet for just about every university in England.  Packaged either as “About a bank account” or “You’ll need a bank account whilst at the university” each leaflet provides information about student banking, local maps of campuses or town/city centres, and occasionally photographs of branches.  Students are reminded that Martins Bank is especially friendly to students, and that is why so many student Bank with them.

U E A Norwich


Kings Cambridge





Images © Martins Bank Archive Collections

  1969 – How to make your money go further…


Image: © Martins Bank Archive Collections

  Carry on Campus - Martins Bank’s University Branches…

1960 Sheffield University Exterior BGA Ref 30-2615-1.jpg




1965 BGA Ref 30-862 Durham University Exterior.jpg




1968 LU Exterior Tour by Princess Alexandra July MBM-Au68P44.jpg




Liverpool University New Branch 1968 MBM-Wi68P43.jpgLiverpool




1960 Sheffield University Exterior BGA Ref 30-2615-1.jpg



1960 Sheffield University Exterior BGA Ref 30-2615-1.jpg


1966 Exterior view of Branch Caravan through manor gates MBM-Au66P37.jpg



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