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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Goodbye to the Yorkshire Penny

John Woodman

In today's madness of rebranding and renaming familiar business and product names - Blackpool's town centre is set to lose a longtime banking name - Yorkshire Bank which has occupied premises on Abingdon Street for nearly a century. Its original full title was 'Yorkshire Penny Bank' reflecting the modest earnings and deposits of many (but not all) of its account holders. As an aside, when I lived in New York City the 'Dime Savings Bank' similarly reflected the modest circumstances of its customer base. A US 'dime' was the name given to the ten cents value coin - still used today.

Within a few weeks the frontage and staid facade of the Yorkshire Bank is to give way to the new owning brand - 'Virgin Money' with a flamboyant style far removed from the conservative style of 'Yorkshire Penny and its now abbreviated successor 'Yorkshire Bank'. Much like the recent closure of Abingdon Street Market - being taken over by an arm of Blackpool Council and hopefully to be regurgitated as a focus for crafts and specialist outlets - Abingdon Street's once thriving retailing businesses have fallen on hard times. Not helped by the decision of Royal Mail to vacate the magnificent General Post Office premises which dominate surrounding properties. Still empty with 'For Sale' signage, this classic structure deserves a sympathetic owner able to optimise its value with more than yet another drinking outlet - of which banks in particular seem to be prone once their original purpose has moved on. The town's main toy and hobby premises 'Bateson's' a family run business was also a mainstay of Abingdon Street's retail offer - with frequently updated displays of 'Dinky' models and Hornby train sets in its windows.

The Yorkshire Penny Bank conveniently had its premises sited directly behind the principal town centre tram stop for Marton's frequent outbound service from Talbot Square and Clifton Street - so it featured in many images taken by enthusiasts prior to 1963. Ladies millinery was offered in another classic Blackpool centre store on Abingdon Street, noteworthy for the time a Marton tram (a Standard car) ploughed into its frontage having jumped curving tracks leading from Church Street. Originally the Marton tramtrack extended all the way to Talbot Road where a connection allowed cars to operate from Talbot Square during busy periods. This didn't last for long however.

Fortunately the rebranded Yorkshire Bank and its owners will continue their banking business in the same property - which is in contrast to the 'beating the retreat' policies taken by other financial services all too keen to shed costs (and human interface with customers) in favour of online handling. The trams may have long gone but the bank remains.

A rail coach traverses the curve on the corner of Abingdon and Church Streets with 'Yorkshire Penny' frontage anchoring the frontage. Sharp eyed readers will note that the tram appears to be running the wrong way on outbound tracks. This is no mistake. Trackwork further along Church Street required single line working into the town centre. Photo : John Woodman


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