Calling London – a new title for Threadgold Press

On the 12th June, Threadgold Press is very proud to be releasing a book outside its usual genre. This book is scholarly, genuinely readable and historically important.In the twentieth century men from the Midland Bank travelled the world to try and understand how overseas centres of finance and industry functioned, to promote their business and meet their counterparts in other countries.

They were inquisitive, openminded and energetic. They sent back reports from Chicago, New Orleans, Montreal, St Petersburg, Vienna, Stockholm, Paris, Tokyo, Prague, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires and many, many other cities. They had an uncanny knack of fetching up in these centres at moments of high drama. And they reported back in detail and without political allegiance.

These reports are available for study in the archives of HSBC in London. Calling London set these reports into historical context with fascinating extracts along the way. 

Calling London: Travels by British Bankers, 1904-63

The back cover says:

There is hardly a happening in the world that does not have its repercussions, immediately or eventually, on Overseas Branch. Midland Venture, 1933

From 1904 to the 1960s managers of the Midland Bank in London travelled the world to visit centres of finance and industry and then report back. They often arrived, by chance or intention, at crucial moments in history – Russia in 1909, Austria in 1931, France in 1944, Chile and Japan 1948 and for example Germany in 1933:

Dr. Fischer was careful to explain to me, quite irrelevantly, that Hitler was a most peaceable and peace-loving man to whom war-like intentions were entirely foreign… W.F. Crick, Berlin, 1933

In a scholarly, informative and fascinating account, Edwin Green sets this rich resource in historical context. While Calling London throws light on local conditions in some serious times, it also includes delightful insights into how British Bankers were seen abroad:

Mr. Holden is no dreamer. The way he hands out a cigar is suggestive of the rapier. Toronto News, 23 September, 1904

Edwin Green was appointed as the Midland Bank’s first archivist in 1974. From 1993 until his retirement in 2007 he was group Archivist at HSBC in London, where the records of the Midland’s Overseas Branch are located. He is the author and co-author of many publications on banking and business history, including histories of the Midland Bank, The Mercantile Bank of India and the Institute of Bankers. He is uniquely placed to guide future researchers to this gold mine of twentieth century business archives.

From 12 June book will be available directly from Threadgold Press, or from Amazon.

In case you think a gremlin has taken over my blog… here are some peonies. 

17 thoughts on “Calling London – a new title for Threadgold Press

    • Yes indeed, Edwin is my husband… 40th wedding anniversary this September. He is shy and wouldn’t let me put his picture on the blog.
      Our weather has at last eased up, the frosts have gone, but it’s still not as warm as early March! I planted out the the runner beans today.

    • The book is a great piece of research and world history, particularly useful for someone researching the last century, but definitely a specialist subject. Peonies like these give us perspective.

    • The amazing thing is that these guys would roll up and take the temperature of places at astonishing times. They went to Paris in 1944 to see how local bankers had coped with the occupation – French bankers had used brilliant and funny ploys to outwit the German determination to empty the coffers. They went to Tokyo in 1948 to re-establish banking relations with the Japanese banks. It’s like the science communities today, the common understanding overrides narrow nationalism.

      • Indeed, the desire for power in certain individuals is extremely influential in this context. This desire in these individuals gathers both followers and rivals and clashes become inevitable.

    • It is, but a bit specialist. These are tree peonies they are more than a month ahead of the normal ones. I am nutty about the scale of these, they feel as though they belong on Victorian wallpaper not real life.

  1. Fascinating! I did a Diploma in Export Management with a fellow who had been sent out to Australia by the HSBC back in the early 80s. We had to submit a combined marketing report on whatever. I think he was here to see what opportunities would be presented by Australia deregulating the dollar and unpegging it from the trade-weighted index. I don’t suppose Edwin knows his way around the UK National Archives website by any chance? I am looking for a bankruptcy in the 1870s. I have the London Gazette notice if he can offer a helping hand. It would be greatly appreciated. All the best with the book launch!

    • Hi Gwendoline, can you give us a name, or email a copy of the Gazette notice to threadgoldpressATwaitroseDOTcom? If it is a bank we may be able to make progress, or at least move the inquiry forward. I actually gave a talk at the National Archives last year (on my Far East POW book) and an old friend and colleague of Edwin’s works there. You may not hear anything back from us immediately as we are travelling some of the time.

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