The forgotten heritage railway bank branch!

As a regular reader and subscriber to Heritage Railway, I see that you carry what I would call ‘human interest’ stories as well as core heritage topics.

I recently received a communication from Royal Bank of Scotland to advise that its Longsight, Manchester branch was to close on November 8. You may ask why this is of interest to the heritage railway fraternity.

Long ago, the RBS Longsight branch was branded under the Williams Deacons Bank Ltd banner and the bank manager in the 1960s was George Cedric Davies (generally known as George, but sometimes Cedric).

An article from the Daily Mail of Monday, September 16, 1974 (priced 4p!) relating to preservation banker George’s move to Somerset to head up the East Somerset Railway. COLIN STANAWAY

George was instrumental in early railway preservation, being involved in the establishment of the Stockport Locomotive Society, which eventually took on the site that became Dinting Railway Centre under his chairmanship.

He then went on to help David Shepherd set up the East Somerset Railway before George’s untimely death around 1977. Through the Longsight branch of Williams Deacons Bank Ltd and their club, George was instrumental in organising some of the steam railtours in the latter years of BR steam. I believe, he also played a part in the relaxation of the BR ban on private steam locomotives running on BR metals.

Later, after the bank had been renamed Williams & Glyn’s, the branch would set up at significant steam events, still offering sponsorship and support to the railway preservation movement. So, the closure of the bank branch represents the end in part of the story of the railway heritage preservation movement.

I’m sure this isn’t the whole story about the branch and how it influenced the 1960 and 1970s preservation movement. George once suggested to me that he had several bank accounts at Longsight held by preservation societies who he had managed to get preferential rates for in their embryonic days – perhaps not just a listening bank!

Colin Stanaway, email

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