Such an event first occurred on a foggy January morning in 1959, when Liverpool made history by housing the country’s first drive-through bank.
Liverpool is a proud city with many claims to fame and many “firsts” over the years.
The opening of Toxteth Bank in 1959 caused shock waves in the banking world.
Trusting to secure its place in history by opening the first bank of its kind in the country, Martins Bank was about to organize a glittering ceremony for its founding in March 1959, with the Minister of Transport standing in line to officially open the bank before the press and the country’s national dignitaries.
The controversy arose because a competing banking company, Liverpool-based Martins Bank, had been planning for some time to open its own drive-through facility in Leicester.
Located at the intersection of Upper Parliament Street and Princes Road in Toxteth, the groundbreaking Westminster Bank sent shock waves through the banking world when it was launched in Toxteth on 29 January 1959.
They had no idea that they were on the verge of being brought to the post by a courageous competitor in their home turf.
Mr. G. F. Corbin, then head of mechanization at Westminster Bank, told the ECHO on the day of launch: “Everything was kept completely secret. No one knew what was going on except the bank architect, the officials at the London headquarters and the local manager.
The construction of the bank was kept top secret under the code name “Operation X”, and its launch, which was announced through advertisements in local and national newspapers throughout the country, surprised everyone – especially Martin’s bank.
The Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Harry Livemore, was also present to officially open the bank, and ECHO’s correspondent spoke about how the Mayor acknowledged the bank’s initiative at the ceremony.
The Director General of Westminster Bank was the first to drive through the facility and presented a laminated cheque at the counter, which was to be deposited for posterity in the bank’s central archives.
The bank claimed that the drive-through service would provide unparalleled security, as the ECHO article states: “The new drive-through bank not only makes it easier for car customers to carry out their banking transactions, but also provides additional security by eliminating the possibility of customers being attacked when they walk in with large amounts of cash.
A delegation of other senior bank officials and members of the national press who were due to arrive in the city that day for the opening ceremony were not present as they were prevented from flying in due to thick fog at Liverpool Airport.
The bank opened to the public at 10am the next day and remained open for decades, changing its name after a merger of Westminster Bank into National Westminster in 1970 and closing for a time in 1981 – when the bank was set on fire and brought to the ground in the midst of the July 6 riots.
“The system is what the bank calls an armed system”…