London Bank – Home to the World’s First Cash Machine – Listed
The Barclays Bank in the London suburb of Enfield has been listed at Grade II by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on the advice of Historic England.
It was the first bank in the world to be fitted with an automated teller machine (ATM) to dispense cash directly to the customer. Its official opening on 27 June 1967 by the actor and comedian Reg Varney drew crowds of spectators.
The prototype machine functioned differently to today’s cash machines. The customer inserted a special paper voucher like a cheque that was punched with dots corresponding to the customer’s four-digit PIN. Both a signature and PIN was needed for authentication and if they matched a £10 note was issued.
This was a major technological development in both banking practice and the growing use of automation within modern society.
The Enfield branch at 20 The Town was chosen for the ATM because of its mix of customers, its good pavement access, high windows and for being close to the Barclays head office. Although the original ATM has long been removed, a commemorative plaque marks its location.
Cash machines are now such a normal part of our daily lives but it was in this elegant bank building in a north London suburb that this new, ground-breaking technology was tested and went on to change the world. It’s extraordinary to think how much has changed since 1967 when it comes to everyday banking. While our use of cash has fallen in recent years as contactless technology dominates, it still remains a lifeline to many and I’m glad to see this building recognised for its contribution to that story of evolution.
The building’s entry on the National Heritage List for England recognises both its historic and architectural significance.
The purpose-built bank, originally a branch of the London and Provincial, is a strong work of late 19th-century commercial architecture. Built in 1897 it stands on a prominent corner site of Enfield’s market square and its exterior remains largely unaltered.
It was designed by William Gilbee Scott in a style described by architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner as ‘exuberant Flemish Renaissance’. Made of red brick with stone dressings and prominent gables, it is topped by a decorative cupola and small spire.
2017 was the 50th anniversary of the earliest ATM. Barclays marked the occasion with a new plaque and turned one of their current cash machines gold.