Edmund Street, Head Office
Britain's First Municipal Savings Bank continued:
It was regarded as a red-letter day when the Bank had its own self-contained Head
Offices, and a large gathering of members of the City Council and others assembled on the 6th July, 1925, to witness the opening of
the premises by the Right Hon. Neville Chamberlain, MP (Minister of Health).
Images of the premises at 6 and 8 Edmund Street,
and the details of the events of July 6th 1925, are recorded on this website as follows:
made at the opening event and at the lunch held in celebration of the occasion;
taken at the opening ceremony (Image 027)
Even though the move to 6 and 8 Edmund Street must have provided much better facilities, not
everyone was completely enamoured. In his recollections (see Memory 034
) Fred Parsonage recalled that: In 1925, Head Office was transferred
to new premises in Edmund Street. The strongroom here was in a filthy basement with plenty of rats about and when one went to the
strongroom; the rats could be heard scurrying away. Papers and documents in the strongroom became covered with black dust. Kirtland,
the caretaker had a lovely rough-haired fox terrier and he had great sport catching the rodents. These were not ideal premises.
pressure on space at Edmund Street continued - from both the number of accounts at the Head Office branch (growing
from 17,381 at March 31st 1920 to 36,009 at March 31st 1927; transactions increasing from an average of 1,633 per week to 3,084 per
week between the same dates) and from the need to accommodate a larger administration function. In the period from 1919 to 1927, the
Head Office administration was required to deal with a growth in the House Purchase Department from 148 to 1,841 advances per
annum; and the impact of an additional 25 branches being opened.
This position was reflected by J P Hilton in 1927 in Britain's
First Municipal Savings Bank:
It will be realised that the position at the Head Office is different from that of a branch. The Head
Office acts as a clearing-station for branch transactions; it is the centre for the amalgamation of the Bank's figures and must maintain
its statistical and accountancy departments. The general correspondence of the Bank is conducted from Head Office, and large supplies
of printing and stationery have to be stocked there and periodically distributed to branches.
The accommodation question has become
a serious matter, and is engaging the attention of the committee. It is not easy to find adequate premises, centrally situated, which
can be made suitable for the Head Offices of the Bank, but the existing conditions call for action, as the depositors know only too
Action to solve the Head Office accommodation problem was taken when the City Council allocated land at the city centre end
of Broad Street for a Civic Centre. Here was built (just 13 years after the Bank commenced business) an imposing Head Office, as detailed
at Broad Street Head Office
The position regarding the Bank's inability to expand the Edmund Street premises was described in
a contemporary Newspaper Report
The location of the Bank's first Head Office was the City's Council House, Edmund Street, as described by J P Hilton in Britain's
First Municipal Savings Bank:
Beginning in a very small way in the semi-basement of the Water Department building, we became
joint users of the service-laying office. Our next step was to take over the whole of that section of offices. The third move was
to use a large portion of the long counter of the Water Department upstairs as well as the semi-basement rooms. Our fourth change
was to take over an area approximating to half of their general office, with a number of other rooms, the semi-basement premises being
surrendered to the Motor Taxation Department.
Although the Water Department did its best to satisfy the Bank's increasing
requests for extra accommodation, the time arrived when those requests could no longer be met, and it became necessary to move
to independent offices. Premises owned by the Council at 6 and 8 Edmund Street were placed at the disposal of the Bank, and after
reconstruction work was completed, these premises became the new Head Office.
Neville Chamberlain (holding the ceremonial key) speaks at the opening ceremony of the Edmund Street Head Office - July 6th 1925.
Behind him (left to right) are:
the Bank's Chairman (Councillor C T Appleby);
the Lord Mayor (Alderman Percival Bower); and
General Manager (J P Hilton)