CASH machine enthusiasts can breathe a sigh of relief - the plaque commemorating the birthplace of the ATM has been restored.

A circular blue resin plaque is now fixed to the wall of Barclays Bank in The Town, reading 'The world's first cash machine was installed here' with the strapline 'lives made much easier' underneath.

Unveiled by Enfield Mayor Jayne Buckland this morning, in front of a crowd of Barclays staff and Enfield North MP Nick de Bois, the plaque was paid for by Barclays Bank after its metal predecessor was stolen in February.

Police say it is likely to have been melted down for its scrap metal value.

The machine was opened on June 27 1967, in front of hundreds of onlookers, with On the Buses actor Reg Varney being the first to use it.

Steve Rogers, network area director for Enfield, who is based at the branch, said: "Banking has been transformed since 1967, when we had shorter opening hours, and this provided 24-hour access for the first time ever.

"I was in the area a few days after it was stolen and customers were asking when we were going to replace it. Enfield is very much a commmunity so people really cared about it. They are very proud of the fact that this was the site of the first cash machine in the world."

The cash machine was invented by John Shepherd-Barron, who sold the idea to Barclays.

The Enfield Town branch was chosen as the testing place for his invention because it abuts the market square providing space for queues to form.

By the end of the Sixties there were 781 cash machines across the world, 595 of them in the UK. There are now over 63,000 in the UK which allow you to obtain cash, top up a mobile phone, check a bank balance, request a bank statement and change a PIN number.

CASH MACHINE FACTS: At the opening in 1967, a man climbed inside the machine to push the first bundle of notes through in case there was a mechanical fault, according to Barclays staff.

The ATM's arrival was heralded with an advert titled 'An instant cash machine' which read: "Whatever next! This is Barclaycash machine, the first of its kind in the world. Put a special voucher in it - and out pops £10 in banknotes. Just like that. Any time. Day or night."

The original plaque was erected in 1992 to mark the 25th anniversary of the machine's installation. The day was marked by Sheppard-Barron, who joined Mike Steadman, who bored the hole to put the ATM in, and Ron Everett, who filled it with cash.