Lloyds Bank has closed its branch in Swanage, ending its 126 year history in the town.
The last day was meant to be Monday 19th September 2022 but that’s now been declared a bank holiday for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, so the doors closed for the final time at 3 pm on Friday 16th September 2022.
Lloyds Bank in Swanage in 1985. A cashpoint was later to replace the door on the left
The Swanage branch of Lloyds Bank weathers a storm in 1935
Follows Barclays and NatWest branch closures
The closure of the Lloyds branch follows that of Barclays and NatWest, leaving the Post Office and the Nationwide Building Society as the only places left in Swanage to conduct face-to-face financial transactions.
Once a major employer in the High Street, in recent years its opening hours were dramatically reduced, along with the number of staff, as the popularity of online banking increased.
Doors closed for the final time at 3 pm on Friday 16th September 2022
Lloyds Bank staff reunion in April 2010. Left to right: Judy Longman, Susan Ward, Gill Jacobs and Gillie Humphries. In front row: Judy’s daughter Sue with her granddaughter
“All the books had to be balanced”
One former Lloyds Bank employee was Gillie Humphries who worked in the Swanage branch from 1957 to 1964, before transferring to the Abingdon branch.
Now living in Corfe Castle, Gillie remembers what it was like to work there:
“We had many adventures along the way, those more notable being at the end of the half year June 30th and end of year 31st December, when absolutely all the books had to be balanced and finished off, right to the last penny. And of course they never did!
“And so we settled down to burn the midnight oil. It was actually great fun working together, eating buns and sausage rolls from Mr Wadkins, Huon Pine, the bakers next door.
The last day in the branch – the original ornate plaster ceiling has survived until the present day
“Highly valuable parcels”
“And there were the HVPs – highly valuable parcels – that had to be posted off weekly when the bank was holding too much cash! Two of us chained to each other and the case containing the money, would leave together, heading very suspiciously down Commercial Lane to the GPO in Station Road.
“How things have changed! If ever two people looked more suitable to get mugged, I have yet to meet them!
“The summer months were always chaotic, and we opened a fifth till to accommodate the holiday visitors, who had ‘open credits’ arranged so they could get their holiday cash whilst in Swanage. Sometimes the queue would be down to Stevens the Butchers, now known as Curiosity.”
The original counter in the Swanage branch was positioned further out into the banking hall
The counter in 2022 is screened off by glass and set further back
Grade II listed building
According to the Lloyds Bank archivists, the Swanage branch was built in 1896 from Portland stone.
The building replaced much more modest cottage-like buildings and at the time of its opening would have appeared very grand and impressive. It was granted Grade II listed building status in 1983.
The building is no longer owned by Lloyds Bank, having been sold off and leased back some time ago. It’s not known what will now happen to the listed building.
1964: In the foreground in the Swanage branch are the counting machines that pre-dated computers
Gillie Humphries’ leaving do on 4th September 1964. Standing left to right: Ray Witt, Graham ?, Philip Birkinshaw, Brenda ?, Winifred Aplin, Myra Edwards, unknown, Neen Fellows, unknown, Ilene Elwood, Joan Scott, Don Greer, unknown in red jumper, John Greer partially obscured, the messenger, Mr Lee the bank manager. Sitting left to right: Christine Webb and Gillie Humphries
Major Swanage employer in its heyday
However, with so many local residents having worked in the branch over the years, many of the memories of working in the branch will live on.
In its heyday before computers, the branch would have employed about 20 members of staff.
Gillie Humphries recalls a few stories:
“I do remember a farmer from Weymouth coming in with a cheque that had been made out to him from the Fatstock Marketing Board. He urgently needed some cash to pay an account to some farmhand who did not yet possess a bank account, and so he presented the cheque to me and asked for the cash.
“As I did not know the probity of the drawer, I passed it to our accountant, Mr Dean and asked his advice. He suggested we request the farmer to endorse the cheque and add his address.
“I called the gentleman back to the counter and asked him to ‘endorse it’ please. He went away for some time and in the end, he came back, and I looked at the back of the cheque. In spidery writing he had written ‘In Dorset’!!!
58 years later after Gillie Humphries left the bank, the branch has closed and there’s no more staff to occupy the building
“Ink it over”
“Another anecdotal story did actually occur, and it makes me smile to this day. A lady came in and requested to cash a cheque for her niece which had been written out in copperplate writing, but alas all in pencil!
“She was hard of hearing and so I had to try and make her understand it needed to be written in ink, not pencil. At the third try I just shouted to her: ‘Ink it over’.
“She disappeared and finally came back again, passing me the cheque unchanged, and still in pencil. She said sadly: ’I’ve thought it over, but I must have the money!’ And so I ‘inked it over’ for her, and cashed it. The cheque was never returned and so we got away with my forgery.
A modern addition to the bank – hand sanitiser and antibacterial wipes!
“Bottle of single malt for the manager”
“One final electrifying moment occurred when my dear friend (who shall be nameless) was on duty doing the post. It was a most unpopular job as it meant staying late every business day of the week and being responsible for ‘stuffing’ the envelopes, sealing them, weighing and stamping, and taking them to the post office.
“Included in the daily post were clients’ bank statements, some of whom received them weekly, some monthly, according to the calendar. Poor J was feeling very stressed that day and in stuffing the bank statements into envelopes she inadvertently mixed two very important accounts, albeit with similar sounding names.
“And so the bank manager in due course received two irate telephone calls from respective clients threatening to remove their accounts to the nearby National Provincial Bank. My poor friend was devastated and in floods of tears, as she stood before the manager whilst he tore her to shreds for her misdemeanour.
“Her mother, an important town councillor, came to her rescue, arriving at the bank with a bottle of single malt for the manager and an abject apology on behalf of her daughter. Nothing more was ever said, and the two clients mercifully remained on our books. One wonders if they too, received some liquid inducement!”