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17 May 2008 321 views
 
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photoblog image The History in the Stone

The History in the Stone

 

The Martins Bank building in Liverpool is a grade II* listed building designed by the renowned achitect Herbert J Rowse (He also designed the Mersey Tunnel buildingsand the works of art n them). It was finally completed in 1932.

Martins Bank had 16th century origins, and was said to have been founded by Sir Thomas Gresham, who began trading in Lombard Street at the sign of the Grasshopper. Barclays Bank purchased Martins Bank in 1969.

During the Second world war a large part of Britain's gold reserve was stored in the Liverpool headquarters of Martins Bank.

Local historians disagree over the meaning of the two main panels that flank the entrance doors. Some say they show Liverpool merchants with their hands on African slaves and are a legacy of the distant past. Others say  that it signifies that the prosperity of the city, its maritime connections in the shape of Neptune  and this building in particular being a bank is helping the lesser poorer nations. I suppose you can read anything into it if you try hard enough. The fact that the building was completed over 120 years after the slave trade was abolished could give some credance to the second opinion.

Whatever the meaning the carvings are very well executed and do make you think about the past. There are certainly maritime connections with the mermaids and the leaping fish. The grasshopper is obviously a reference to Sir Thomas Gresham.

The History in the Stone

 

The Martins Bank building in Liverpool is a grade II* listed building designed by the renowned achitect Herbert J Rowse (He also designed the Mersey Tunnel buildingsand the works of art n them). It was finally completed in 1932.

Martins Bank had 16th century origins, and was said to have been founded by Sir Thomas Gresham, who began trading in Lombard Street at the sign of the Grasshopper. Barclays Bank purchased Martins Bank in 1969.

During the Second world war a large part of Britain's gold reserve was stored in the Liverpool headquarters of Martins Bank.

Local historians disagree over the meaning of the two main panels that flank the entrance doors. Some say they show Liverpool merchants with their hands on African slaves and are a legacy of the distant past. Others say  that it signifies that the prosperity of the city, its maritime connections in the shape of Neptune  and this building in particular being a bank is helping the lesser poorer nations. I suppose you can read anything into it if you try hard enough. The fact that the building was completed over 120 years after the slave trade was abolished could give some credance to the second opinion.

Whatever the meaning the carvings are very well executed and do make you think about the past. There are certainly maritime connections with the mermaids and the leaping fish. The grasshopper is obviously a reference to Sir Thomas Gresham.

comments (5)

  • Alan
  • Great Britain (UK)
  • 17 May 2008, 07:38
Thanks for the notes, Les, I do remember Martins Bank. I like the way uyou have captured the various aspects here.
Les Auld: Thanks Alan, there are several branches of the bank that just call out for photographing, maybe one day.
Another great history lesson Les. I love the way you have done this as a triptych, very effective. I subscribe to the second theory. I can not imagine anyone being so crass as to consider the first option as a motif. But it does suit a certain section of the population to promote that theory, easier to get your face on the telly!
Les Auld: Couldn't agree more Alistair, appreciate the comment.
Nice collage Les, I think you have concentrated on the important areas of the buildings and served up this special presentation for us.
Les Auld: Thanks Brian, there were so many details on the building it was quite difficult to decide just what to include.
Excellent Collage Les. I think it was Martins Bank that a friend of mine worked for in the early 60's in Ghana
Les Auld: Thanks for the comment Bill.
  • Ellie
  • cold England
  • 17 May 2008, 23:35
Now this is interesting, because (I'm told, and you've said the same) Martin's Bank was taken over by Barclays. I think this was their main branch in Liverpool and it's where OH's account was opened! I haven't a clue about the symbology.

As for the picture - it's nice, I like the way you've laid out the four separate images, they seems to work well together like this.
Les Auld: And Martin's took over the Bank of Liverpool as wel.. Thanks for the comment Ellie/

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