Branches
 
NE 
 BEARWOOD
 07
38th
SE
143 Sandon Road, Birmingham, B17 8HA
021-429 1540
W
1929
 
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The Bearwood district is on the western side of the city, and the BMB branch in the area was first located in the last property in Birmingham (the boundary marker between the City of Birmingham and Smethwick is visible in front of the door, in the photograph below) on the road towards Halesowen and Hagley: 177 Sandon Road, Edgbaston. These premises had previously been used by Lloyds Bank. The branch was opened on November 3rd 1919; working hours are unknown, but from May 1st 1920, they were amended to Monday, Friday, and Saturday evenings from 18:00 to 19:30. During the earlier period, the branch was worked in conjunction with Harborne branch. 
right:
Temporary branch at 177 Sandon Road, photographed in 1926
 
below:
New Premises at 143 Sandon Road (1929)
The official opening of the new premises took place on September 7th 1929, with ceremonies performed at the Barnsley Road Schoolroom and at the branch - both on the doorstep and internally.
 
(right):
The Bank's Chairman (Sir Percival Bower) addresses the assembled crowd; the Lord Mayor is to his left, alongside the Mayor of Smethwick. The Bank's General Manager (J P Hilton) is on the left of the photograph, and his deputy (Frank Ellison) is between the two Mayors.
 
(below):
Two views of the crowd assembled for the opening, listening to the speeches being made on the doorway
 
 
A full description of the day's events was reported in a local newspaper.
The Mayor of Smethwick speaking at the opening of the new premises
2008:
the branch now houses a firm of Chartered Certified Accountants
Branch Deposit Balances at March 31st:
1921 - 20,716
1926 - 198,294
1946 - 2,876,388
1947 - 3,025,776
 
Number of Open Accounts at March 31st:
1920 - 307
1927-  6,782
1947 - 18,371 (Savings: 18,249; Mortgage: 122)
 
Average Weekly Transactions:
1920 - 70
1927 - 771
 
Annual Transactions - Year Ended March 31st 1947: 82,108
 
 
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OpenStreetMap contributors
= location of the permanent branch at 143 Sandon Road;
= location of temporary branch, just to the east of the city's boundary with Smethwick
Managers:
1926 - H E Martin
1928 & 1929 - J Baker
1930 & 1931 - E Price
1934 - H J T Bayliss
1958 - E Price
1959 to 1969 - H J T Bayliss
1970 to 1972 - G A Ridley
Below: this 1952 view of Sandon Road shows the branch in the background at the corner of Willow Avenue
 
(Photograph courtesy of Alton Douglas: 'Birmingham: More of the Fifties', published by Brewin Books)

By March 31st 1921, the branch had 832 accounts and annual transactions were 5,564, and with the Bank having recently recruited more staff, the question of opening the branch on a daily basis was considered. As the premises were let to the Bank on a yearly tenancy, and the same rent and rates were payable whether they were used during the evenings only or as a daily branch, it was decided to provide daily openings from September 1st 1921.

The Clerk-in-Charge of the Evening Branch was Mr C Danks. The General Manager stated that the success of the branch was due to the enthusiasm of the Clerk-in-Charge and that the branch's books were kept in a first-rate manner and that it stood out prominently as a well conducted evening branch. Mr Danks was appointed branch manager on the terms applicable to Grade B.

The Bank sought a lease of the premises for 5 years at 40 per annum, but Messrs Vernon & Shakespeare, acting for the Landlady, stated that their client was only willing to grant one for 5 years at 45 with an option to renew for a further 5 years at an increase of 5. If the lease were not taken, the rent would be increased in accordance with the Rent Restrictions Act. The Bank agreed to the 45 rental plus rates, with the landlady responsible for external repairs. The branch's living accommodation was let at 13/9d per week, but this portion of the premises was only divided from the branch by a partition - a partition that was only carried up to the ceiling in 1921.

Minor alterations were also made by taking in the rear premises, but the accommodation was still insufficient to meet the demands of customers, who often had to queue outside the branch. The reconstruction of the premises was considered, but no satisfactory scheme on these lines could be produced, owing to the restricted frontage and the tapering boundaries of the house and ground. Attempts were made to purchase the property with a view to the reconstruction of the premises, and negotiations were conducted by Frank Wilde - he wrote to the General Manager in October 1925: 

"The [....] Property has been offered to me at the sum of 650 with a Lease having Fifty years unexpired from the 29th September last. The Ground Rent on the six houses amounting to 24. 12. 0. is payable by the Owner of No 177 who collects the Sub-Ground Rents of 4. 2. 0. per House from the other tenants.

"Although at the moment I cannot purchase any of the adjoining shops I do not think an opportunity such as this of acquiring the one you occupy should be missed, particularly having regard to the fact that your Lease expires in September of next year.

 

"I have had some correspondence with the Solicitors acting for the Owner in order to keep the matter over until your next Meeting, and I shall therefore be glad if you will let me have your immediate decision after such Meeting."

 

The City Surveyor was consulted regarding the alterations required to create suitable premises if the property was purchased. The verdict was that alternative accommodation would need to be obtained for the existing tenant of the dwelling part (a policeman) and until it was known whether the adjoining premises could be obtained, or not, it would be advisable to re-let rather than purchase. The City Surveyor prepared a plan for altering the premises, and estimated the cost of such alterations as being between 800 and 900. Tenders were subsequently obtained that ranged from 837 to 982; and the lowest tender (from J T Harris) was accepted.

 

However, by June 1927 the premises were again considered inadequate and the question of future accommodation was reconsidered. The cost of altering the existing premises to temporarily relieve difficulties was estimated at 1,400, which with the purchase price and the cost of previous alterations, would amount to approximately 3,000. It was considered that for a leasehold property that was not in good condition, and having about 70 years unexpired, would only be justified if it was not possible to secure a suitable site elsewhere.

 

Such a suitable site became available when the Tramways Department desired to improve the facilities for turning buses at its Sandon Road terminus by purchasing buildings and land about 250 yards from Bearwood branch, at the junction of Sandon Road and Willow Avenue. The Bank were approached with a view to a joint purchase; the owner's asking price being 2,750. This amount was considered excessive and the Bank agreed to a joint purchase with a firm bid of 2,000.

 

The title deeds of the 1,613-square yard property contained restrictions as to new erections on the land, but it was decided that no undue risk would be taken by proceeding with the purchase with the object of erecting a branch and dwelling-house. In March 1928, 16 tenders for the cost of building (ranging from 3,952 to 4,549) were considered and the lowest was accepted, the work to be completed in six months.

 

In May 1928 the General Purposes Sub-Committee were informed that an injunction had been threatened by an adjoining owner to prevent the use of the land for the purpose of a branch bank and for tramways purposes, having regard to the Clause in the title deeds of the property containing restrictions as to the use of the land for business premises. Objections to the development were lodged by a number of local residents under the Law of Property Act, 1925. The Arbitrator awarded to seven objectors the total sum of 590, but the claims of the remaining 129 objectors were dismissed. Development of a new branch building was then able to proceed and the Bank's 38th permanent branch was opened by the Lord Mayor (Alderman W Byng Kenrick) at 143 Sandon Road on September 7th 1929. At this date, the branch had 9,625 depositors and the balance standing to their credit amounted to 381,000. Of these depositors, approximately 7,000 resided in Smethwick. By 1946, only Head Office had higher Deposit balances than Bearwood. 

The architect of the building was Stewart Evans, who in addition to providing the usual banking offices on the ground floor, incorporated an excellently planned flat above. The building contract was carried out by George Mobbs, and internal fittings were supplied by Richard Hunt.

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