Speaker for 8th October 2019

President Dr John McGlade greets John Richardson, with Second Vice President John McKegney (L) and Past President John Henry (R) - 'The Four Johns!'

Coleraine Probus and the joys of banking in the 50s

President John McGlade gave a warm welcome to members and then introduced the speaker for a recent Probus meeting, John Richardson. John's the topic was “Banking Travel - The Early Days.” After a 40-year banking career with the Northern Bank, John had an abundance of amusing stories and fine collection of period photos to enhance the stories he told. This all kept club members entertained throughout his talk, and wishing he could tell the members a few more too!

From the Belfast Bank to Dungloe, almost another world!

John's first posting was to Dungloe in Co. Donegall where his important possessions were a toothbrush, pyjamas, a map and railway timetables. The map and timetables essential as that was often the only sensible way to reach the bank he had been temporarily transferred too. In the 1940s and 50s there was a veritable spiders web of railway lines linking so many small towns and villages across all of Ireland. However, there was a drawback, as yet, no standard GMT / Summer Time, time clock had been agreed, so the printed timetable could have you arriving at a destination before you had left the first station!

No small village was too small to have the railway lifeline

With a salary of £325:00 per year and faced with the sum of £16:00 per month for a shared digs, that would leave a meagre sum for living expenses, with even less if an extra ten shillings were paid for a single room (and even more if you wanted your own bed!). John would post his weekly linen bundle back home to his Mother in Belfast on a Monday, and receive it back washed for Wednesday! (any bets on that happening today! - WebEd)

A relatively modern 'Rail Car'

During his long banking career, John served in banks in Co. Donegal, Strabane, Newtown Stewart, Fintona, Manor Hamilton, Clones, Newtownbutler, Mohille, Dowra, Lisburn, Carrickfergus, Ballymena and Coleraine. To keep the young bank staff truly on their toes, the banks in Donegal would often receive deposits of both American and Scottish money. The railway systems were important to the banking industry as often coinage in ammunition boxes would be transported by rail and transferred to banks on sack trolleys.

Unloading the coal at Newtonstewart

John had a fine selection of tales of the eccentric customers, like Tibby Brown Leckey an actor from Ecclesville Hall who would “chasse” into the bank with theatrical aplomb. There was the “Compo” like character (from 'Last of the Summer Wine') in Co. Leitrim who came into the bank with a bucket full of coins amounting to 985 pounds eleven shillings and eight pence. After correctly checking the contents of the bucket numerous times “Compo” announced that it was the wrong bucket and promptly left the bank with the bucket, begging the question, what was in the other bucket?

Station Staff, even small stations had a full crew in the 50s, today is a different world!

John's talk and photographic presentation was highly enjoyable and much appreciated by the members. Many of who had thought Banking was boring, they certainly didn't believe that by the time John finished (all too early) his thoroughly entertaining talk.