|| The back-room boys of Wigan Trustee Savings Bank have launched their own "Sputniks."
The result - not messages from outer space but a cut in the waiting time for the bank's thousands of customers.
Each counter cashier has been given a "satellite" - a trained clerk who will speed the return of bank books after the original entries.
"We think it will cut the waiting time by at least a third," an official said today. Hitherto, after the cashier has entered up a book it has had to go to the rear of the bank for further checking.
And the customer has had to wait at the back of the bank for the book to return before he gets his money.
With the new system it is hoped that eventually the customer won't have to wait at all.
The new counter system coincides with extensive structural alterations at the bank, which did £20,000,000 worth of business last year, has 48,000 accounts and £8,000,000 in funds.
The old counter has been ripped up and a new one installed to run parallel with King Street.
The wooden enclosures on top have been copied from a photograph of an American bank that a member of staff saw in a magazine.
The rearranging of the counter will give bank users an extra 140 square feet of space.
"Since 1949 individual transactions handled by the bank have risen from 170,000 a year to 336,000 a year," a member of the staff said today.
"We have 1,100 transactions every working day - a figure which is equalled by very few banks in the country - and we need the extra space."
New, comfortable seats are to be placed at the back of the bank for pensioners.
The bank porter has given up his flat above the bank - and the five senior officials will move into new offices to be built there.