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GRIFFINS & HEXAGONS

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Nostalgic Stories

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Dave Kay

I don' t suppose many people remember the furore over the Chairman's Christmas card around 1960.

Every branch received one with words to the effect, "The Chairman wishes eveyone a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year".

Somebody sent their branch card back to Head Office annotated on the top, "Words and figures differ".

Immediately a H.O. circular demanding that every branch check that they had their card and advising any that were missing.

I never heard if the culprit was ever found but most of us agreed with his/her sentiments and agreed with them!

Russell O’Connor

I have happy memories of my brief time working in the Dereham Road, Norwich branch after leaving school in 1980.

I worked in remittances and always had problems tallying it all up at end of each working day, not helped by lunch time drinking no doubt. Left after 6 months as the Branch Manager said I was not cut out for banking. I then had a very happy career in uniform, 22 yrs in RAF and 14 years Police.

I do remember everything was very basic. No computers, adding machines with rolls of paper, and having to run cheques through a machine. And security was just as basic. Two passwords to gain entry from what I remember.

When you came to front door in the morning a staff member inside would say either Midland Bank or Thomas Cook and you were to reply with the other one.

Only person's name I remember is young lad called Patrick Henry, he stayed for long time after it became HSBC, and worked in London Street Branch, Norwich.

Laurie Wilson

Seeing the recent picture of the Griffin Savers bag prompted memories of I think 1985. Some background for posterity....

I was the IT manager for the project, working with the Marketing team led by Peter Simpson. We had just finished the 'free if in credit' project (that probably screwed the UK retail banking industry for the next 30 years! ).

At the opening meeting Peter explained that we had to somehow create a cult. (remember that for later)

NatWest had the piggies and we had to respond. I believe the original target was 100k accounts and I can't remember the final figure, but it was many times that we ended up with.

The bag was first prototyped in yellow with a big black roundel griffin on each end. . Yuk!

The eventual black bag became a short-term must have for all kids. I seem to recall the bag manufacturer was a customer who 'needed the order' .

I believe they changed banks after making a significant income from the success.

The rest of the package was carefully selected to be useful. A calculator was not included because we could only supply one that the kids would give to their Mums for shopping! A lot of dictionaries survive.

A few branches jumped the gun and issued the bags some days before launch. Not helpful but we very quickly realised we had both a success and a problem.

Demand was crazy and supply never really caught up. Parents camped on branch steps. 'Valued' customers demanded preferential treatment. Children cried... The branch network was creaking under the strain.

Whilst we had a successful campaign we were concerned whether the branch network would survive.

After the dust started to settle we were all hauled in by a senior management team who wanted to know why we had nearly destroyed the retail network for a silly number of minor savings accounts containing £10.

Peter in his inimitable way explained, with a straight face, that we had unwittingly created a cult and that could never have been predicted!

I still very occasionally see the bag being carried by middle aged men at holiday airports. Griffin Saver groupies are still out there...

Tracy Fletcher

This group has got me thinking about the first branch I ever worked in Batley.

The Branch Manager was a guy called John Pearson Outhwaite (JPO) a lovely man but quite honestly the most eccentric manager I have ever worked for!!

2 stand out moments are his last Friday of the month haircut. Carolyn Thornton used to bring her scissors in and trim his hair and the day he went to change the clock and split his trousers.

He dropped his pants in the accountants box and we had the job of sewing them up whilst he was stood in his underpants!!!!

Those were the days xx

Neville Clark

I just want to share a comparison of "cultures" and "times".

I joined Midland Bank in 1956 straight from school and served 6 months probation at Peterborough Branch.

I was accepted and immediately transferred to Melton Mowbray, Leics. I was just 17 years old and now living away from home.

I travelled by bus and train on the Monday morning to Melton Mowbray. I arrived just after 9am (as advised) and was taken to see the Accountant.

He explained that The Manager Mr. Clark lived above the Branch and would be down shortly, after he finished breakfast.

At 10am I was called, and walked behind the Accountant into the Managers office.

The Accountant turned to me and said "This is the Manager, Mr. Clark, (same surname as I had) and you will call him Sir at all times" !

Some 18 years later I resigned and with my family emigrated to Canada to work for Bank of Montreal.

The first day reporting for work I was let into the premises by a young lady who introduced me to the Senior lending officer. His introduction was "Hi Neville I'm Mike so pleased to have you join us" !!! He in turn took me to the Manager's office where I was introduced , as Neville and the Manager said words to the effect" Hi Neville I'm Tony pleased you made it to Canada."

I will never forget the difference in greetings between my first day at Midland Bank and my first day at Bank of Montreal,Canada.

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