It’s hard to remember the world pre-cash machine. To put it succinctly: it was fraught. If you wanted to have actual cash handy for the weekend, you had to visit the bank and interact with a human. Slips were involved. And pens. And if you failed to catch the tram and the bank had closed a minute early? You had to borrow money from Paul.
And you know how Paul feels about lending you money. So thank goodness for Reg Varney, the half-forgotten star of saucy sit-com On The Buses. As he has the first ever person to use a cash dispenser, which was installed at a Barclay’s in Enfield and activated on this day in 1967. The Scottish inventor, John Shepherd-Barron, was inspired to created the ATM when his local bank was closed and he had to cash a cheque at the petrol station so he had money for the weekend. See? I told you it was fraught.
You can be forgiven for thinking 'Why Enfield?' Sure the poet John Keats went to school there, musician Amy Winehouse was born here and let's not forget the infamous Enfield Poltergeist, but Enfield isn't exactly the centre of finance...
Londonist.com got in touch with Barclays who told them, "Enfield was chosen as it had a model cross-section community, was fairly self-contained and had sufficiently high enough windows and enough space inside for the safe." Mmmm OK, still not entirely clear.
The real answer seems that it was a quite testing location, better there than say busy Oxford Street. In case you've been living under a rock for the last forty years, the machine worked wonders and by 1969 there were 34 cash machines with a 15-mile radius of Marble Arch announced for installation.
The cash machine still stands on Enfield High Street where there is now a commemorative blue plaque which reads:
"The world's first cash machine was installed here on 27 June 1967. Lives made much easier."