Here are some pictures taken around the closure of Mile End Branch in the mid-eighties.
Mile End was a highly successful Branch and my first Managerial Appointment.
I was appointed Assistant Accountant having previously been a Security Clerk at 10 Newgate Street. Normally appointments to the branch were given to fast-track graduates including some of the first HR professionals the Bank employed.
Prior to this Regional Directors had responsibility for HR although they were not specifically qualified in this role. I'm not sure why they chose me to have my first appointment here but what an appointment it was!
The first picture shows the exterior with some of the team and the AutoBank and Night Safe. Led by Dick Hutchins the Branch had a strong team and had sub branches in Queen Mary College, part of the University of London.
We had a large number of student customers as a result and pert of my role was to manage the student accounts. Sadly we were also the target of criminals and in the eight months following my appointment suffered five Bank raids.
These usually followed a delivery by the bullion van. Dick became good friends with the Flying Squad as a result and had regular curries with them. After the first few raids our defences were strengthened.
Rather than the usual glass screen in front of cashiers we had special laminated glass installed at the Branch. This was over an inch thick and consisted of several hardened glass layers bonded by laminate. We were told that we could safely hold up two fingers behind it even if someone with a shotgun threatened us!
While the glass may have been fine the frames in which it was installed were not. They proved inadequate for the heavier reinforced panels. On our last raid the raiders ran in with shotguns, pickaxes and sledgehammers. On hitting the large panes of laminated glass with their sledgehammers, the frames failed and the heavy panes collapsed inwards fortunately missing my cashier colleagues.
The raiders then jumped through with their shot guns and threatened us for the cash in the tills. It was a truly frightening experience.
The banking hall picture shows the screen post raid after the damaged panes had been replaced with wooden panels. Note the plastic Griffin!
The raiders were finally captured by the Sweeny when they attempted a similar raid on Nat West Hackney Triangle. After so many attacks the decision was made to close the Branch. Normally branches close because of a decline in business.
This was different here and meant that we had to transfer many thousands of accounts manually to other branches. The final picture of the back-office interior shows a very youthful me (standing) with colleagues working to transfer accounts.
A Nixdorf terminal and account card cabinets are in view.
Goodness how times have changed but it really was a memorable first Appointment!
If any colleagues from the branch recognise themselves it would be great to hear from them.