ACCESSING cash couldn't be easier.

ATMs, or cash machines, simplified the way we could withdraw cash from our accounts. Instead of literally putting pen to paper and writing cheques to pay ourselves our hard-earned savings, suddenly we could take our little plastic cards and insert them into the 'hole in the wall.' Tap in your pin and hey presto your cash appears.

Of course, using cash machines also brought the odd disadvantage, as does any new invention. There are pros and cons with most things as we know.

One of the biggest drawbacks is remembering those all important PIN numbers; forgetting them and tapping in what you think it is too many times can lead to that frustrating situation where you see your card disappear - for good - leading to the rigmarole of having to ring the bank and re-order another card and revise another PIN.

Perhaps though, there are more advantages than disadvantages when it comes to having access to instant cash. You don't have to wait until the bank opens; you have access to your cash night or day and it can come in particularly handy if you need cash in an emergency.

Falling short of a few quid for a taxi fare home following a night out, or just topping up the cash you carry every now and again when you need it, the 'hole in the wall' can be a saviour in many situations.

Although the introduction of online banking means we don't even have to go to the cash machine to see our balance and can happily keep an eye our finances from the comfort of our own homes, they remain a vital function on our high street - 50 years since they were introduced.

Yes, unbelievably, another milestone in history has been marked as the cash machine recently celebrated its 50th birthday.

The world's first ATM was unveiled by Barclays as its Enfield branch in north London on June 27 1967.

To help commemorate this financial institution, Barclays transformed the modern-day Enfield cash machine into gold.

Now for some fascinating facts: Apparently, the original ATM was the brainchild of John Shepherd-Barron, who was commissioned by Barclays to create six cash dispensers, the first of which was installed at Enfield.

On the Buses TV sitcom actor, Reg Varney, was the star of the opening and the first person to use the state-of-the-art invention, which transformed people's ability to manage their finances by giving customers access to cash outside bank branch opening hours.

Despite the rise in other new technologies such as online and mobile banking, the ATM remains popular 50 years on.

The UK record for the most cash withdrawn in a day was broken as recently as December last year as Christmas shoppers withdrew £730 million, according to industry figures.

Trade association Payments UK recently predicted that the rapid growth in the use of contactless cards means cash will be overtaken as Britain's most frequently-used payment method by the end of next year.

But Payments UK has said its forecast did not herald the demise of cash, as even in 10 years, cash is still expected to make up around a fifth (21%) of all payments.

Raheel Ahmed, head of customer experience and channels at Barclays, said: "Even though recent years have seen a huge uptake of digital banking and card payments, cash remains a crucial part of most people's day-to-day lives - whether it's paying for groceries or doing the office coffee run - and we're very proud of the role that Barclays has played in the history of the cash machine."

This month also marked 30 years since Barclays introduced the debit card to the UK, on June 3 1987.

Jeremy Light, managing director of payments at technology services company Accenture, said the ATMs of today are changing with the times to keep up with customers' needs.

He said: "The ATM is changing, as it takes on a new role to complement online banking. Donating to charity, buying stamps or even applying for a credit card are all possible and may come to your local ATM.

"Smarter technology means ATMs are more secure and versatile today, for example cash withdrawals using a mobile phone instead of a card. ATMs perform an important role in the UK economy and maintain customer interactions with a bank. Perhaps cash will always be king."

Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Stephen Barclay, said cash machines revolutionised banking when they first appeared on high streets.

He said: "Exciting new apps may mean we are doing more and more online but, half a century after it was introduced, the ATM still retains a crucial place on our great British high street and is key to how we access our money."

Here we take a look back at Bradford's history with the ATM and the financial institutions which have long been a part of the city's past..

Over the years some bank branches have closed encouraging more customers to sort out their finances online, so our gallery of photos, sourced by our nostalgia writer and researcher, Odele Ayres, is bound to evoke fond memories.