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April 15, 2014
Posted at 8:25 am

A Difficult Situation

I have been reliably informed that my "Bank of England" situation could have never happened:

Hi David'
Thanks for your reply.
Yes there are many 'Joint Stock' banks and 'Mutual Societies' in the UK but only one Bank of England. The 'old girl' (so named after the picture of Britannia used as its symbol) is the only one empowered by HMG to set the 'base rate' and so control (or attempt to) the economy. The well known ones are Barclays, Lloyds, NatWest, HSBC, TSB etc. etc. are to be found on every high street. In the 1950's there were even more financial institutions than now. Whilst happy to deal with the uber-rich, unless agreed in advance, payments of £2000 or more have to be notified 3 working days in advance; more like £150 then. In 1963, when working away from home, in order to use 'over counter' services away from my designated 'home' branch I needed a letter from that branch to be sent to the designated branch to authorize the change. I could use both but the agreement had to be renewed every 3 months. Correspondence was directly bank to bank. Easy back then as the GPO always delivered next day with two deliveries (to your door) and collections (from a red posting box) a day everywhere and up to 4 times in towns and cities. Also Banks kept 'Banking hours' 9:30 to 4:30, weekdays, close at 12 on 'half days' with Saturday opening in towns of 10 to 12. Proles like me had a PO savings account as the Post Office stayed open longer. Note the 'savings' was just that cash in or out only.
Now it seems crazy but then it worked.
The wealthy could and did avoid it, as they do now.
The Austins of the day coming from the USA would throw a fit, rightly so.
This is where the 'Private Banks' come in. Coutts is the only name that I can think of but I know that there are a handful of others: very discrete. Johnson-Matthey, the gold refiners and bullion dealers, were in banking then and might have been a candidate.
The clients seldom went to the banks; normally couriers took documents and currency to and fro for them. However at the point of landing direct contact might be needed. I would be discrete. Car to a Grand Hotel or an imposing building and the business enacted in a subdued deferential manner and then to the Railway Station. All supposing the buildings were patched up after the Blitz. All seaports had been badly damaged in the war with re-building only just getting into its stride then. Do not forget that food and clothing rationing ended in1953.
Yes the railway was (and to a degree still is) the way to travel in Great Britain - if you can afford to. Then it was first class and third class only. Second had been dropped in the thirties but snobbishness refused to accept the fact; today it is first and standard. British Railways was still recovering form war service and recent nationalision. Trains were frequent and expresses swift (limited in US) with superb service in first class. Pullman and Wagons-lit carriages were still available on some trains, for a supplement of course, a hangover from pre-war days. Grimy of course and almost all steam hauled.
Use the watch? No fun in that.
Oops I do go on a bit but as Churchill is supposed to have said 'two peoples divided by a common language' - and culture too. The cult of the Cheerleader???? Mystifying! Driving? I was 21 before I was allowed a licence now it is 18.
You are good with the details but the Bank of England does not handle personal accounts.
After all that I DO ENJOY your work. It is fun wandering the magic garden of dreams that you and the muse weave. I just stumbled over a tree root in the path.
As ever, Regards form Seasprite.

I am heartily sorry…I beg ignorance…and fiction.

I'm damned if I'll change it.

Old Man with a Pen