Midland Bank branches in the Blitz

About this collection

Midland Bank (now HSBC UK) faced its darkest hours during the aerial bombing that was launched over the UK during the Second World War. Over six years there were 1,351 reports of damage to 600 branches, and 31 instances of total destruction. More than 25 employees lost their lives during air raids, either at home or at work. The bank continued to serve its customers, almost without interruption, thanks to efficient pre-war planning and the extraordinary resilience of staff. Explore these photographs to see the devastating impact of the bombing.

 

The bank’s branch network in London was badly affected. Beginning on 7 September 1940, the city was systematically bombed for 56 of the following 57 days during what would become known as the London Blitz. These photographs show the Monument branch at 47 King William Street, close to the bank’s head office in the heart of the City. The building structure is still intact but all the windows and ground floor entrances have been destroyed.

These images show the Kirkdale branch of Midland Bank in Liverpool, before and after aerial bombing raids in 1941. More than 600 branches were temporarily or permanently put out of action by the raids during the Second World War.

Photographs of the Aintree branch of Midland Bank in Liverpool, before and after raids in May 1941. The chimney stacks of the furthest wall are still standing but the rest of the building has been entirely destroyed.

The Sheffield Blitz took place over four nights in December 1940. Located in the North of England, the city was home to heavy industries including steel and armament works. Midland Bank’s branch on Bank Street, pictured here, was completely destroyed on the 13 December 1940. Only the basement vault remained, buried under piles of rubble. The nearby branch on Church Street had all its windows blown out, but was structurally undamaged and all staff returned to work in the morning. However later that day, quite by chance, two colleagues found an unexploded time-bomb at the back of the premises. The staff evacuated shortly before the bomb exploded and blew apart the rear of the building.

These images show the Victoria Street branch of Midland Bank in Bristol, before and after bombing raids over the city during the Second World War.

Portsmouth was home to a large royal dockyard and subsequently suffered extensive bombing damage. These pictures show the bank’s branch on the High Street, which was destroyed by fire following an air raid early in January 1941.

Images of the Palmerstone Road branch of Midland Bank in Southsea, Portsmouth before and after aerial bombing raids in August 1940. It was the first branch in the network to be completely destroyed.

Plymouth, on the South coast of England, was badly hit due to the presence of a large naval base. The bank’s branch on Bedford Street is pictured in 1940, and again after devastating bombing raids. Tragically there were human losses in this instance too. A member of staff, Albert Haigh, stayed on at the office one night to take his turn as a firewatcher. During the raid, Albert perished alongside two other local firewatchers.