Midland Bank

The bank that liked to say Yes

Jackie Markham


Jackie Markham



Newbury's Midland Bank staff gave birth to eight babies in one seven-month period in the mid-1990s

In 1916, the distinctive and elegant round-fronted building at the corner of Mansion House Street and Northbrook Street, used to be home to Mr EC Wheeler’s cycle shop. A couple of years later, Mr Wheeler was persuaded to move his cycles further down Northbrook Street to the Broadway, and the Midland Bank moved into one of Newbury’s best known buildings, where they remained for the rest of the century, (though they changed their name in 1996, to HSBC).

Many Newbury people will remember the Midland Bank with their catchy advertising slogans – “the Listening bank” and “the bank that likes to say yes”.

Birmingham Midland Bank was established in 1836 by Charles Geach, a 28 year-old bank clerk with the Bank of England, who joined forces with some of his local business contacts to open the new bank in Union Street in Birmingham city centre.

In 1891 the purchase of the Central Bank of London, Ltd, gave them a London address and within 7 years the Midland Bank had moved its headquarters to Threadneedle Street in the City of London, acquiring another bank in the process.

The bank’s showy new headquarters in 1930, designed by Edwin Lutyens, was known as “the place of finance”.

In 1992, the Midland Bank became part of the HSBC Group, and the Midland name was lost in a re-branding exercise in 1999. Since then it has been known as the HSBC bank. Their current London headquarters is a prestigious building, designed by Norman Foster, at Canary Wharf.

The  Newbury Midland Bank staff hit the headlines in 1996 when the NWN revealed that no less than eight female members of staff (from a total staff of just 21) had given birth in one seven-month period. We pictured the proud mothers and their bonny babes on our front page on 29 August 1996.

In recent years the banking industry has undergone rapid change, particularly with the introduction of online banking in 2000. Many customers and ex-staff miss the daily contact they used to have with each other.

At the end of 2006, HSBC bank moved out of the Newbury building it had occupied for ninety years, and relocated further up Northbrook Street, next door to the newly-refurbished Camp Hopson department store.

Click through our picture gallery to remember the “good old days” of banking, and see some of the familiar faces from the Midland Bank in Newbury over the years.

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