An Inventor in our Midst

Night safe wallets, c.1930

Night safe wallets, c.1930

In 1929 Frederick Pritchard was working in the Premises Department at Head Office in London. He was a man of ideas and, in May that year, he submitted the first of several inventions to the Patent Office. He had devised a ‘night’ safe for banks, which comprised ‘a receptacle behind a slot in the wall through which packages for deposit are passed.’ The ‘receptacle’ was mounted on a conveyer, which transported the cash into the branch safe proper. His invention allowed customers to securely deposit their takings with the bank, even when it was closed. Patent no. 335924 was granted on 3rd October 1930.

Pritchard did not stop at the night safe, however. During the Second World War he turned his attention to converting branch vaults into air raid shelters for staff. These strongrooms were clearly already very sturdy structures. The system he came up with involved a ceiling escape mechanism, through which the staff could exit the basement. In all, £50,000 was spent on these modifications. In Manchester, the branch basement was also used as a public shelter.

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