September 08, 2009
ROBBERS who raided Manchester's banks in the 19th century didn't have to worry about CCTV - but they had to keep an eye out for gun-toting cashiers.
Rarely-seen archives from the city's financial history show how bank staff were routinely issued with guns to protect their branches from thieves.
A series of leather-bound volumes and sepia photographs set to go on public display reveal the story of how Manchester banks helped finance the world's first industrial city.
They will be on show as part of an exhibition looking at the history of banking in Manchester through the archives of institutions such as the Union Bank of Manchester, established in 1836.
The archives show Union Bank of Manchester branches were issued with revolvers for protection.
These were maintained until 1925 when they were gathered in at head office, though one continued to be issued to the bank's chauffeur when he drove the cash van. The firearms were surrendered to the police early in the Second World War.
The archives show that the annual salary of a boy starting as a junior at a Union Bank of Manchester branch in 1859 was £10.
From 1910 to 1912 the Union Bank of Manchester at York Street held a subscription account for Captain Scott's British Antarctic expedition, raising thousands of pounds.
Other bank archives are from the Lancashire and Yorkshire Bank (est 1872), which helped finance the Manchester Ship Canal, the Mercantile Bank (est 1890) and the Palatine Bank (est 1899).
All the banks were later amalgamated into other firms and eventually merged into what became the international banking giant Barclays. The exhibition is being held at the Barclays branch in Market Street.
A revolver will be on show in a display case, along with minute books for the Union Bank and the Lancashire and Yorkshire Bank.
Andrea Waterhouse, archivist for Barclays Group Archives, said: "We are delighted to be taking part in this year's Heritage Open Days.
"For the very first time, members of the public will be able to travel back in time with Barclays at our futuristic new branch on Market Street in Manchester for a rare opportunity to see some of the treasures from our archives.
"Amid the shining glass and chrome of Barclays first flagship branch, you'll be able to discover what it was like to work in a bank 100 years ago and our leather-bound volumes and sepia photographs will tell the fascinating story of the finance behind the world's first industrial city."
Also on display is film footage of the Wythenshawe Computer Centre, which was once the largest commercial computing facility in Britain.
The archive material is normally kept under lock and key but is being put on display as part of the English Heritage Open Day programme.
The exhibition is being held at Barclays Bank from Friday to Sunday.
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