THE reputation of Hong Kong as a financial centre has been far from untainted but the history of the banking sector contains some of its darker episodes. Banking collapses and runs on banks have marked some of the financial community's most dramatic moments. Reports in the 1960s suggest that Hong Kong citizens spent a large part of their time queuing to get their money out of beleaguered banks to put it under the mattress where they believed it would be safer. The queues were not always orderly, and outrage continued long after the doors of some banks had closed forever. A report under the headline ''Disturbance in Queen's Road'' in the South China Morning Post on May 11, 1965, recorded nine arrests outside the court where the winding up petition against the Canton Trust and Commercial Bank was being heard. The collapse of the bank led to one of the longest trials held in Hong Kong, and in July, 1969, two of the bank's directors were jailed and a third heavily fined but, after four years, about $100 million was still missing. To combat runs on banks, the government imposed emergency restrictions, limiting withdrawals to $100 a day per account. The measures were lifted in mid-February, but the queues were formed again a few weeks later, this time outside the Hang Seng Bank. The government moved swiftly and the Hang Seng Bank was taken into the protective custody of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. In the mid-1980s trouble brewed yet again. Once more the government had to step in. Hang Lung, Hong Kong Industrial and Commercial Bank and Overseas Trust Bank all had to be bailed out. Others were steered into stronger arms, with Ka Wah Bank, Wing On Bank, Union Bank of Hong Kong and Hong Nin Bank being rescued. It was not until this month that the bill was finally tallied. The cost to the government of the debacle of the previous decade was $3.8 billion, after putting back in the proceeds from the sale of the Overseas Trust Bank to Guoco in July. The latest banking catastrophe to affect Hong Kong was in mid-1991 when depositors were hit by the worldwide collapse of the Bank of Commerce and Credit and were locked out when they attempted to recover their deposits.