Scunthorpe’s ‘Tank Bank’

Tanks appeared on the streets of Scunthorpe during the early part of the last century and there are a number of pictures showing a tank outside St. Johns Church, one of these is the number 403.

Tank No403 outside St, Johns Church in the 1920s

Tank No403 outside St, Johns Church in the 1920’s. Ryall’s Seed Merchants shop can be seen on the right, the writing under the shop sign reads “Reliable Seed Store.”

The purpose of the tanks visits during World War One was to promote war bonds to help pay for the cost of to war of 1914-18.

They became known as ‘tank banks’ and provided a fine attraction following the launch of the ‘tank bank’ in Trafalgar Square on Monday 26th November 1917.

Tanks at that stage were at the forefront of war technology and the curiosity value of a stationary tank was fantastic.  The town of Scunthorpe had a closer affinity to the tanks more than other because it was steel made at the Lysaght’s towns steelworks that was provided to Foster and Co of Lincoln to build their ‘Water tanks for Mesopotamia.’ This was the code name given to the project to build the new war machines – the Dreadnought Tank.

The initial idea of the Tank Banks was for two officials to sit inside the tank shell and sell war bond certificates.



The tank bank really gripped the Londoners imagination, children turned up with bags of halfpennies, 430 clerical staff from Martin’s tobacco stores processed along Piccadilly, with the Coldstream Guards to buy bonds. By the end of the week with insurance company investments £319,640 had been taken.

Now the war savings committee announced a War Band rally for the second week centered on the tank. Its aim was to bring in a total raised to £1million.

With the introduction of a second wandering tank which toured another site in London pretty soon saw £3 million raised and tanks were dispatched to Sheffield and Cardiff and subsequently elsewhere with war savings committees of various cities clamouring for tanks and competing to see where could raise most money.

Tank No141, known as Egbert, visited Scunthorpe on 26th & 27th July 1918 to sell war bonds.

An advert for Egbert's visit to Scunthorpe

An advert for Egbert’s visit to Scunthorpe

The clamour for tanks to visit was always too much for the available tanks to satisfy. One way around this was to send replicas of tanks to some of the smaller towns.

After the war the army had a large number of tanks left which it didn’t know what to do with. They were offered to the National War Savings Committee which in turn offered them to towns’ up and down the country to commemorate the hard work and large amounts of money collected for the war effort. It was one of these tanks (no403) that Scunthorpe received, it remained in Scunthorpe into the 1930s.




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