Bottle of bubbly for impromptu goodbye to staff at bank closure

(l-r) John Mihell of Andi-Cars, Jane Murray, landlady of The Ship Inn, Bob Smyth, David Linington and Henry Taylor. ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (142377-6887)
(l-r) John Mihell of Andi-Cars, Jane Murray, landlady of The Ship Inn, Bob Smyth, David Linington and Henry Taylor. ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (142377-6887)
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IT WAS a sad day as customers said goodbye to a bank which has stood proudly in a town for more than 150 years.

Emsworth’s Lloyds Bank branch closed on Friday and staff were surprised by loyal customers who stood outside with champagne as the doors were locked for the final time at 2pm.

Bank manager Graham May and his team were shocked to see a large group waiting to say their goodbyes in The Square.

It was organised by Bob Smyth, a regular at nearby pub, The Ship, along with landlady Jane Murray.

Jane said: ‘Although we had champagne it wasn’t a celebration, it was more of a wake.

‘We will miss them all so much.

‘I’ve been here 20 years and Graham has been there all that time.

‘He is an excellent bank manager. Every member of staff knows each of their customers by their first name.

‘How often do you get that kind of thing now?

‘The service was personal and helpful.

‘As a business owner it was so convenient to be able to pop in to do my banking.

‘Now I will have to go all the way in to Havant.’

As reported in The News, the bank has stood in a prime location in The Square for more than a century in a Grade II-listed townhouse.

Lloyds has been forced to close the branch because the landlord has decided to redevelop the upper floors of the building back into residential accommodation.

The first and second floors are being turned into apartments, which would have left Lloyds with just the ground floor.

The bank needed the first floor for its operations.

Now customers will have to travel into Havant to do their banking.

It has come a big blow to customers but the bank stressed it was not for financial reasons and the branch was busy.

Mrs Murray added: ‘We do not even have a Lloyds cashpoint now.

‘We have other cashpoints in The Square but it is a shame.

‘I think Lloyds just made a mistake with the tenancy.

‘It was a nice way to say goodbye to everyone there and let them know we appreciated them.’

Some staff will be relocated to the Havant branch, in West Street.

Mr Smyth said: ‘I’ve been a customer for 40 years.

‘I thought it would be very sad if it closed without any notice. And also we wanted to say “bye, bye” to Graham and the three cashiers.’