“Martins Bank was a London private bank, trading for much of its time under the symbol of “The Grasshopper”, that could trace its origins back to the London goldsmiths. Martins agreed to its acquisition by the Bank of Liverpool in 1918. The Bank of Liverpool wanted Martins to give it a London presence and a seat on the London Bankers’ Clearing House; the Martins name was retained in the title of the enlarged bank which was known as The Bank of Liverpool and Martin’s Limited. The title was shortened to Martins Bank Limited (without an apostrophe) in 1928 at the insistence of the directors of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Bank when it was bought by the Bank of Liverpool and Martins. The head office and managerial control remained firmly in Liverpool, cementing Martins’ place as the only English national bank to have its head office outside London.
Martins Bank Archive has been collecting images and items relating to Martins Bank since 1989. Since 2009 the collection has been accessible online, with interested parties emailing requests for (or donations of) information or images, via the archive website. Since 2011 Martins Bank Archive has carried the newsletter of the Grasshopper Pensioners’ Club, a group of former Martins Staff whose activities are funded partly through subscription, and partly by Barclays. The site is run in association with, but independently of Barclays, who provide several thousand images of the bank’s branches as they were between the 1930s and 1969. At 24 June 2013 the archive website comprises 1,116 pages of information and images relating to more than 900 known branches and former branches of Martins Bank. The archive has pieced together a staff database of more than 100,000 entries, from existing paper records, and can provide limited information to family tree researchers. Career details are available dating back to the late 1800s for some staff, but in the main the records cover the period 1946 to 1969. The database also covers new entrants, staff transfers and promotions, marriages, retirements and deaths. Martins Bank Archive is also home to a separate archive for Lewis’s Bank, covering the period 1958 to 1967. A staff database for this period is also maintained.
The 1971 film version of Dad’s Army featured the fictional Walmington-on-Sea branch of Martins Bank, actually the Crown pub in Chalfont St Giles. Mr Mainwaring’s Bank was always meant to be Martins, but in the early episodes of the TV series the BBC felt a different name would “avoid confusion”. In an episode of the second series Mr Mainwaring can actually be heard telling Private Walker that “as the Manager of Martins Bank” he wants nothing to do with black market activities. It was also used as the bank in “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” (2016).
Martins Bank worked in association with the Kiddicraft Toy Company and Metcalfe Models to provide toys with the bank’s logo on them. These included miniature cheque and paying in books, and cardboard construction kits for model railway enthusiasts. In 1968, whilst already part of the Barclays Group of Companies, Martins issued what became a commemorative grasshopper money box in clear yellow plastic. This was given to children who opened savings accounts, along with a gilt brooch.”