Sir John Quinton: Norwich banker rose to head Barclays

A Norwich born banker, Sir John Quinton, who has died aged 82, rose to be head of Barclay's.

When he became chairman in 1987, he was the first for 40 years who was not connected to the bank's founding Quaker families.

A football supporter, initially of Norwich City, he became chairman of the Premier League in 1992 when England's top 20 clubs broke with the Football League.

John Grand Quinton, who was born on December 21, 1929, went to Norwich School and was head boy. Instead of following in the footsteps of his father, William, who was manager of the Magdalen Street branch, he had thoughts of becoming a teacher.

Having completed National Service, he went up to Cambridge on a city major scholarship in 1950. At St John's, he read modern history and got his first taste of banking life with Barclays on the temporary staff of St Giles branch, Norwich, during the long summer vacations.


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After graduating in 1953, he joined Barclay's Bank, first at Wroxham, and then at the St Stephen's branch. Three years later, he won an associateship of the Institute of Bankers, taking a distinction and prize.

A keen sportsman, he was still playing hockey into the 1980s, and also enjoyed tennis and cricket. He was vice-captain of Norwich Exiles in the 1950s and played hockey for Norfolk A XI.

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When he was promoted to the bank's inspection department in London in November 1957, he was identified as a potential high-flier. But he found time for cricket and captained the bank's 1st XI in London.

Then he spent two years in France at the Paris headquarters of the Societe Generale, which also gave him the opportunity to visit Norwich's twin city, Rouen, to study the working of the port. When he returned to London in 1961, then aged 31, he became one of the youngest assistant managers of the Piccadilly branch, then one of Barclay's biggest in the West End. In 1964, he was promoted manager of the King's Cross branch and later was seconded to the Ministry of Health.

In 1968, he became assistant general manager with special responsibilities for the merger with Martins Bank. Then in January 1981, he became the bank's youngest senior general manager.

When he became chairman, Barclays was an �80bn business, employing 110,000 people in 4,000 branches in 700 countries.

Knighted in the 1990 New Year's Honours, Sir John resigned in 1992. In the same year, he was elected president of the East of England Agricultural Society and in 1993 became a director of Norwich & Peterborough Building Society.

A Freeman of the City of Norwich - a family honour stretching back to 1702 – he became a Freeman of the City of London in 1989. A supporter of charities, he had close links with Motability since it was started in the 1970s. He was always good company, who was happiest listening, and enjoyed returning to the Strangers' Club, Norwich.

While he shared his wife's enthusiasm for the garden of their Buckinghamshire home, they frequently returned to North Norfolk where they had a house at Blakeney.

He is survived by his wife, Jean, who also hails from Norwich, a daughter Joanna and son Michael, and four grandchildren, Max, Tom, Simon and Sophie.

A service of thanksgiving will be held on Friday, May 18 at 2pm at St Michael's Church, Chenies, near Amersham.

Michael Pollitt

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