Welcome to Martins Bank Archive, a treasure trove of nostalgic images and memories of the bank that always went to extremes to be helpful. 

1 November 1968 marked what was billed as “The End of the Beginning”, but which was seen by many as the BEGINNING OF THE END. The assimilation into Barclays of Martins Bank, its traditions, services, identity, branches and some four hundred years of history, takes just over a year to complete.

By the Autumn of 1968 the Bank is a subsidiary company of Barclays, and is allowed one more year to continue displaying its name on its buildings, stationery and advertising.  The stage is set, and the show must go on.  By the end of 2018 there will be fewer than one hundred branches left, of the seven hundred plus that were taken into Barclays at Christmas 1969. That this many still survive in today’s banking climate is not simply a miracle – it is also testament to the solid foundations of Martins Bank and the many individual banks from which Martins was derived. As we look back over more than fifty of the most changeable years for British Banking, we can take pride in Martins Bank knowing that it fell honourably on its sword:  A victim of its own success, the Bank’s determination to embrace change and new technology has now largely done away with the need for branch Banking. As those technologies evolve and mature, they replace men and women with machines powered by algorithms that in the late 1950s were still the stuff of science fiction. 

(Yawn) - Surely it’s just about some old bank, isn’t it?

No, it is NOT just about a Bank – far from it!   The success of Martins Bank Archive is not down to the one thousand or so buildings that have been knocked down, or gradually turned into betting shops and cafés over the years, it is about the lives, talents, hopes and achievements of the people who worked in them, and whose commitment to go to extremes to be helpful still continued to shine through under their new employer, from the end of 1969.  Many of those people have helped us to shape this record of an age that although not so long ago, seems further than a universe away from where we are today. It seems hard to believe that in our first few years online we have reached many thousands of people right around the World, who have contributed to the archive – a precious memory of “how we used to do things”, hundreds of photographs from private collections, physical items we can photograph or scan and share with our visitors.

History is NOT for sale…

Then there is the extraordinary generosity of leading archives, newspapers, specialist journals all keen to share with us and help us bring Martins Bank back to life across our 1224 pages. Our policy is that history should not be for sale, and we have established links with almost 100 companies, newspapers, groups and history societies, who are happy to contribute in return either for a simple copyright notice, or to have their logo and web site linked to us.

It is also the contributions of the people who were there, and of those such as Barclays Group Archives, who like ourselves preserve the records of Martins Bank, for which we are so indebted.  This valuable mixture of input keeps our visitors coming back for more and more nostalgia as they look at the way life was lived and worked between 1928 and 1969 – one of the most changeable periods in modern history.  So it is definitely NOT just about a bank, it is much more of a window on those times when the word BANK meant safety, stability – reliability, and represented a place where your face was known and your finances were kept in check by human beings whose only “excessive bonus” was £10 at Christmas if they were lucky!  We show how life was lived by the ordinary people who worked for Martins – from being “mentioned in dispatches” in World War 2, or achieving prominent local office, to the men and women of the Bank’s Dramatic and operatic Societies letting their hair down, AND moving with the times. The second decade of the 21ST Century has sounded the death knell of Branch Banking, as we switch from needing human contact to using our online devices to move money instantly to anywhere on the planet. This makes remembering those who made all this possible an ever more important duty, and one which we will always take seriously.

Martins Bank Archive exists to advance the education of British social history related to aspects of banking practices and technologies, and those who offered and used them in the 1960s.  We identify and evaluate in particular, records and artefacts relating to Martins Bank Limited, including its former incarnations and its constituent banks, which will be of use to current and future researchers, acquiring such items for the archive and organising procedures and systems for their storage and preservation.  Martins Bank Archive is a voluntary venture, and does not profit or seek to profit in any way from the display or other use of the images and other items in its possession, and every effort is made to establish and declare their ownership.  Contributors and copyright holders are prominently acknowledged.  Whilst Martins Bank Archive has no connection with the day-to-day trading activities of the Barclays Group of companies, we are grateful for the ongoing and generous guidance, advice and support of Barclays Group Archives, in the building and shaping of this online social history. We wouldn’t say we were “ahead of our time”, but this extract from the Editorial of Martins Bank Magazine’s Summer 1963 Edition seems particularly pertinent to our aims as an archive…

Somewhere, a long way back, someone said 'Hats off to the past! Coats off to the future!' and we doubt whether anyone could better that. Our Bank is still small enough, thank heaven, for those in it to be seen and known personally by a great many people, yet it is big enough to stand alone. Gresham's grasshopper still has a proud place on our coat of arms and the liver bird has never felt inclined to drop his seaweed in favour of the succulent insect above his head. To do so would only dissolve a partnership recognised and respected throughout the world. A hundred years hence someone may turn these pages not only to see what has been said to-day but to find out what the Bank was like and what was happening to those in it during the 1960's. We like to think that in this magazine they will see us as we are and, perhaps, sense that quality which embraces our strength, our weaknesses, and all other characteristics and which can best be summed up as 'something which money can't buy'. One important point might, however, be overlooked because it was made by our Chairman in the Annual Report for 1962 from which we quote:

'Martins Bank with its national network of branches is in a strong position which, in the view

of your Board and Management, would not be enhanced by a wider association.'

We hope that those who come after will understand how, in the age of the rat-race, the gimmick and the brash headline, that quietly restrained but immensely heartening statement amounted almost to an understatement. Nevertheless, it found instant and universal approval.


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1964 Sir Cuthbert Clegg Board Member Since 1948 MBM-Sp64P04

How sad that a crystal ball was not available in 1962 to foretell that in fewer than six years, Martins Bank would indeed have to be “enhanced by a wider association”, spoken of by the Chairman of Martins Bank, Sir Cuthbert Clegg (pictured, left), in a BBC Interview in October 1968:

Though Martins eventually will become a completely integrated Bank with Barclays its identity will not disappear immediately. I feel sure that Martins' name will never be lost sight of, because of the Bank's great history”.

Hebden Bridge Branch

1893 to 06/04/2018


Were things always as “bad” as they are today?

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HeadlinesIn the twenty-first century we are used to hearing horror stories about our banks almost every day of the week.  The term “Banker” is freely used to the point where those on the front line of banking - the increasingly hard to find friendly - and usually grossly underpaid - faces who deal with your day-to-day transactions - are not distinguished from those who never even meet the public, and whose risk taking, along with that of their bosses, has caused many of the problems we read about. Was it always like this?  Well, of course not. The golden age of banking seems to end about the time that Barclays takes over Martins Bank.  From that point on, competition is the new king.  The hitherto simple waters of banking become muddied – the nuts and bolts of running a bank become “products”, and cashiers become “salespeople”. 


1917 Grasshopper.jpgCompetition does not, however, seem to be the fault of any one particular bank.  It gathers momentum amongst them all, as those in charge realise that money doesn’t only make more money when it is invested or loaned.  The same money can produce an income if you class looking after it in ever more convoluted ways as a service, and make charges for that service.  The days of the bank manager knowing his customers’ strengths and weaknesses are soon numbered, as computers make it possible to replace more and more tasks previously undertaken by real people;  and so we reach today’s permanently confused and confusing banking market, where no-one really seems to know what direction they are going in, previously sound knowledge of local businesses and financial trends has been lost along with many of those businesses themselves, and much of what Martins Bank stands for in the 1960s has been wiped away…


Welcome Filmstrip.jpgFifty years since Martins was absorbed into Barclays, we should not forget the contribution made by this amazing financial institution, and Martins Bank Archive is proud to offer its collections and this website as both a social history and a permanent reminder, with more than twelve hundred pages of information, packed with memories and images of Martins down the years.   As the first major national bank to be based outside London, first with mobile branches, first with computers, first to operate a cash machine that uses a plastic card and PIN, first to recognise and properly use the full power of branding in the swinging 60s, Martins really is a first among banks – a 1960s icon!

Welcome montage.jpgBy the end of its days as the largest of the “Small Six” Banks, Martins has operated at just over 1000 branch and office addresses in England and Wales, and with over 700 still open by 1969, not to mention district departments and subsidiary companies, Martins’ presence is strong, particularly throughout the North of England where it seems that almost every town and village has its own Branch.  Many of Martins’ new 1960s buildings are beautifully designed with sumptuous interiors, and stand alongside the more traditional bank branches as testament to the bank that always goes to extremes to be helpful.  


To navigate the site please choose from the various on-screen menus and use your browser’s forward and back buttons. Martins Bank Archive is a voluntary venture, not for profit, and aims simply to act as a historical record that is accessible to all.  We always need images of Martins Bank Branches - especially covering the period 1950 to 1969 (just before the bank was taken over by Barclays). 


Exterior AND interior shots, pictures of staff and especially images of everyday artefacts such as cheques, paying in slips and product leaflets are particularly welcome.  We will be happy to include acknowledgements and where appropriate links to the external web sites of those who provide items, memories and/or help. Our Staff Database contains several hundred thousand entries that enable us to piece back together the career details of those who worked for the Bank between 1946 and 1969.  Don’t forget to visit our micro site – LEWIS’S BANK ARCHIVE, which tells the fascinating story of Lewis’s Bank, a unique and major force in Department Store Banking from 1928 to the mid-1980s.   Finally, our MOST WANTED feature gives details of those items and images we are keen to trace.  We will also be delighted to read your personal memories of Martins on our FACEBOOK® page.  If you worked for Martins Bank, and we do not have a picture of you, we will be pleased to include any relevant pictures that you may possess. We hope you enjoy your visit to Martins Bank, and that you will want to visit our 1200+ pages again and again… 

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“The Song is Ended, but the Melody Lingers on…”

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Left to Right: Burnley, Heaton Chapel,

Blackpool Whitegate Drive, Leeds Vicar Lane, and Scarborough South Cliff.

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A huge resource…

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Martins Bank Archive offers a huge resource of information about the Bank, its history, products, ideas and staff, over nearly 1200 online pages.  The online section of Martins Bank Archive has become a valuable resource to people tracing their family tree.  We have thousands of images of Martins Bank Staff, many of whom are now aged between 58 and 90+.  The bulk of enquiries received by the archive are from people who would like career details or copies of images either of themselves, or their loved ones who worked for the bank and are now no longer with us.  Our staff database project, which began in 2009, is now largely complete for the period 1946 to 1969. It contains more than a quarter of a million entries and cross-references for staff at all stages of career from New Entrant to Retirement.  Marriages and Deaths are also recorded for this period.  The bulk of this information is scanned directly from the 96 issues of Martins Magazine, and is as complete as it can be.  We cannot guarantee to be able to produce FULL  career records for every member of the staff.  We are now actively adding as much pre 1946 information as we can find.  In addition to career information, we can, from the Staff Database, supply details of obituary notices printed in the Bank Magazine, and the text of articles written about staff.  These have already proved useful to a number of people wanting to add information about the working lives of members of their family tree. 

Smile, please!


Please note that the images on the website have been specially processed to ensure that they will not enlarge without distorting.  If you would like a copy of a particular image, please get in touch with us at martinsbankarchive@btinternet.com. A large number of our own photographs of Martins’ branches and staff are available – these come from Martins Bank Magazine, and have been in the public domain for between at least 50 years.   Please note however, that we do not supply copies of any of the pictures featured on the website that are attributed “image © Barclays Ref:” without the permission of Barclays Group Archives.  These items are on loan to us, and if copied, will infringe Barclays’ copyright, which could result in legal action against those who copy them. 

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Enquire within…

Please note that the Barclays Group Archives web site is currently undergoing maintenance. If you click on the button below, you will be taken to the JISC site pages for Barclays Group Archives, which does offer information about the extensive collections of historical material maintained by BGA…


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All enquiries to Martins Bank Archive should be made in the first instance by email.  We are happy to search our records for images, or details about a particular branch of Martins, and provide medium resolution images by email. Whilst in the best spirit of Martins Bank, we will go to extremes to help you, we may not always be able to find the answer to your question or query, or answer it straight away.  Where we use outside bodies such as other relevant archives, we will never pass your contact details on without your permission. Please note that items of a personal nature (e.g. private letters) that have been donated to the archive, will not be made available without the permission of the donor or their agents.



The origins and growth of Barclays Bank are similar in many ways to those of Martins Bank – whereas Martins is strong throughout the North of England, Barclays’ heartland is the South, South East and East Anglia, with for example the business acumen of Norfolk Quakers and a network of small local banks being acquired or merging down the years, all contributing towards the World Class Bank we see today.  Barclays Group Archives is an amazing source of information that is not simply about banking, but which can help researchers to unlock the past to show us how we used to live.  You can visit our Barclays Group Archives Page by clicking the logo above.  From there you can visit their website, which is packed full of information and now includes downloadable images from more than 300 years of Barclays’ history.

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Our Branches Database lists more than 1000 buildings that were used as temporary or permanent branches or offices of Martins Bank, and in addition to branch name address and opening hours, it includes Sorting Code and/or National Numbers, address and (former) county, and last known telephone number.  Some of the dates that branches opened have been taken from a listing originally donated to Barclays Group Archives, and cannot be confirmed by them as completely accurate.  However, as more and more titles are added to the British newspaper Archive, we have been able to find a large number of opening dates from oiginal advertising copy taken out by Martins Bank to publicise the opening of new branches

There is also a full list of managers, pro managers, sub branches, self accounting sub branches and main/parent branches as at 01 January 1969.  We are building a separate listing of district office departments and Martins Bank’s Subsidiary Companies, including Sorting Codes where applicable, address and (former) county and last known telephone number.

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We hold several thousand images - a precious but growing number of them in colour - and these include branch interiors and exteriors, departments and offices and/or staff who worked in them, a large collection of branch staff group and individual photos.  The physical archive is growing all the time, and we are always grateful to receive items on loan, donated, or bequeathed.  We have a number of full sets of Martins Bank Magazine, as well as the Martins Bank Book of Instructions, wartime Head Office circulars, Head Office Merger Integration Circulars, cheques vouchers and other items from individual branches.  There are also Martins’ Giveaways such as money boxes (3 varieties), miniature cheque and paying in books (2 types), and Martins books of matches.  We have some training guides and procedure manuals, share certificates, and Martins Bank staff association leaflets and guides. There is a representative sample of customer product leaflets from the 1950s and the 1960s, and a large collection of original newspaper advertisements.  Please be aware that items such as personal letters, which have been donated to but which do not appear within the online part of the archive, will not be made available for viewing without the express permission of the donor. Please note that images credited after this fashion: “Image © Barclays Ref 0030-1628” are the property of Barclays.  They can be download from Barclays Group Archives’ own site free for personal use only. Images credited as follows: “Image © Martins Bank Archive Collections” belong either to Martins Bank Archive, or to the company or individual that donated the original image or its likeness. Whilst we can make most of these images available free for personal use, the owner’s permission may also need to be sought.

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Digging deep…

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Martins Bank Archive is not solely concerned with celebrating and highlighting the amazing history of our Bank.  Any large business concern really is nothing without its army of devoted and hardworking staff, and we are very keen that former colleagues and those related to them, can have access whatever career information we can find for them.  To enable this to happen, we embarked last year on Martins Staff Database, which has already produced career information both for family tree researchers, and many Martins Colleagues who are still enjoying their well-earned retirement. 

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Your help is always priceless…

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We love to hear from the relatives of staff who started work before 1946, within Martins, or one of the many Banks that have come together over the years to build the Bank.  Photographs of any member of our staff, especially pictures taken during their career, help us to put faces to names, and help fill in important parts of the jigsaw.  It is important to note that the information in the 1946-69 database is compiled almost exclusively from published records.  The second database is more complex, as it includes information passed on by relatives, and a large collection of Martins Bank’s own staff circulars. Martins Staff Database is not available online, but we do always welcome your enquiries about Martins’ Staff and of course donations of information and pictures.  If we can help you, or you can help us, we would love to hear from you at the usual address – martinsbankarchive@btinternet.com .

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And finally…

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Martins is at the forefront of so much change in the 1960s, but not even they could have envisaged what we have today thanks to the internet -  being able to think of any question, type it in to a home computer and immediately be faced with millions of answers. Whilst the internet has naturally become everyone’s resource of choice, and has helped fill in the gaps, we are also grateful for the generous assistance of a huge number of organisations and companies, who, whilst we do NOT carry advertising, are given appropriate accreditation throughout this site.  Martins own printed legacy, from its staff magazines and special souvenir publications to the books “Four Centuries of Banking” – has been its own invaluable source of reference, including the unique snapshot of banking life provided within the pages of Martins Bank Magazine. Personal memory – a scarce commodity decades on – is also a unique way to help us tell the story of the bank that at the height of its popularity and prosperity disappeared from UK life forever.  This is why we will be delighted to feature your images and items from the period, along with your memories to share with others. Finally, the Online Archive in particular, benefits from the extreme generosity of the Barclays Group in making available thousands of images, and hundreds of hours of enthusiastic help and guidance, for which we remain eternally grateful.