Martins Bank Ltd

Martins Bank Ltd

The Borough


Martins Bank, which merged with Barclays in 1969, was created in 1918 when the Bank of Liverpool merged with the London-based Martins Bank. Martins had been a private family partnership bank until 1891. The Bank of Liverpool was a joint stock bank which had acquired a number of other smaller banks through the years. The London bank was established by Elizabethan merchant, banker and diplomat Sir Thomas Gresham, trading in a house on Lombard Street in the City of London at the sign of the grasshopper. This site, later to be named 68 Lombard Street, became Martins address until the merger with the Bank of Liverpool in 1918. Thereafter it remained as the London office. By 1700 Thomas Martin, the first Martin partner to join the bank, had begun an unbroken family association with the bank which lasted until the 1930s.

Martins Bank ended up with nearly 600 branches following an expansion programme in the 1950s, including the Yeovil branch situated at 16 High Street (this part of High Street being commonly known as the Borough). The Yeovil branch opened in 1953.

In December 1965 Lord Cromer, Governor of the Bank of England negotiated a deal to merge Barclays, Lloyds and Martins to form a super-bank. The Chancellor of the Exchequer Roy Jenkins barred this on the grounds of competition but permitted a Barclays-Martins merger to go through. After some discussion the merger was agreed in 1968 and plans put in place for a full amalgamation on 15 December 1969.

By 1969, Martins was the sixth largest clearing bank in the UK employing 3,430 men, 3,004 women, 266 messengers and around 600 auxiliaries.

Following the merger the Yeovil branch of Martins became a branch of Barclays until it moved from this building in April 1971. The building is now part of Superdrug.




The newly-opened Yeovil branch of Martins Bank Ltd, photographed in 1953.


The staff of the Yeovil branch of Martins Bank Ltd.


The Borough photographed in the mid-1960's. It has changed very little since then. Martins Bank is seen at left.


The interior of the newly-opened Yeovil branch of Martins Bank Ltd, photographed in 1953.


From a 1960's Martins Bank brochure.