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 ERDINGTON
16
20th
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154 Gravelly Hill North, Birmingham, B23 6BA
021-373 0120
S
1926
 
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Now a major suburb of Birmingham, located 3-miles northeast of the city centre, the village of Erdington slowly grew in size in the last part of the 19th-century - particularly between the two railway stations opened in 1862: Erdington and Gravelly Hill. The new railway gave skilled workers the opportunity to move out of industrialised Birmingham, and into the countryside. The inclusion of Erdington within Birmingham in 1911 hastened the urbanisation of the area. The commercial centre of Erdington developed at a point about halfway between the two stations, near a major road junction called Six Ways, where the Outer Circle bus route was to cross the main highway to Sutton Coldfield from 1923.
 
The BMB's Erdington branch commenced on the first day of the Bank's operations, September 1st 1919, in one of the classrooms of the National School in High Street, Erdington. Business hours were: Monday, Friday, and Saturday Evenings - 18:00 to 19:30
 
These hours were also applied when the branch was relocated to The Church House at 177 High Street on January 3rd 1921. Daily openings were commenced at the same address from September 1st 1921. With business increasing, it became necessary to seek larger premises. The Bank's committee purchased two shops at 267 and 269 High Street with the intention of altering them to create a suitable branch. The freehold of the property was purchased for 2,125 and comprised two retail shops, a kitchen, outbuildings, four bedrooms, and an attic. Vacant possession was obtained for 267 High Street with rooms at rear and above; 269 High Street was let as a lock-up shop on an annual tenancy expiring Christmas 1924, the rental being 45 per annum plus rates. However, as soon as the purchase was completed, the City's Public Works and Town Planning Committee approached the Bank with a view to joining in the purchase of premises and land at the Six Ways junction. The increasing traffic volumes, and the number of serious accidents at this junction, required a road widening scheme to be carried out. The Bank Committee fell in with the road improvement scheme, and consequently transferred 267 and 269 High Street to the City's Gas Department.
 
 
 
right:
The temporary premises used by
the Bank at 177 High Street
right:
Workmen demolishing old buildings as the Bank's General Manager (second left in group of four) makes a progress inspection of the new branch
below:
The progress inspection of the new building continues with the branch's unusual doorway, which is used by the Lord Mayor during the branch opening ceremony on March 27th 1926
below: The interior of the branch in 1926
2008:
the unusual building is very much unchanged
but now houses the Laiki Bank.
 
The rain hopper is dated 1926
 
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The new branch is nearing completion as the adjacent footpath and roadway are being reconstructed
Managers:
1919 - W Hodgetts
1922 - E Cheatle
1926 to 1928 - A N Ling
1929 to 1931 - T J Ladbrooke
1934 - S A Guy
1937 - H J Sutherland
 
1958 to 1967 - L C Abbiss
1969 to 1974 - R W G Rowe
1976 - J Ward
 
The existing buildings on the Six Ways site were demolished and a very impressive new building was erected, comprising banking accommodation on the ground floor and two excellently-planned flats above. The road-widening scheme at the junction introduced a new gyratory traffic system. The new branch at 154 Gravelly Hill North was formally opened by the Lord Mayor (Alderman Percival Bower) on March 27th 1926. Speaking to a large crowd assembled outside, he said he was gratified the Bank had lived down the time when it was compelled to take small premises. He continued by saying that this fine building would be a reminder to them that the Municipal Bank was a very important institution in the city. He recalled that formerly a small house stood at the corner of Gravelly Hill North and Wood End Lane, and as a result the latter thoroughfare was very narrow, and the angle of the entry into the main road acute. The increasing traffic across the main road, and the introduction of the outer circle bus service, rendered the widening of the road space at this spot very necessary; and now the Public Works and Town Planning Committee had been able to carry out an important widening scheme, with more satisfactory loading arrangements for trams. At the same time, the Bank Committee had been able to erect on the site a building worthy of the institution.
 
The cost of the land for the new Erdington branch was 958, which with a building cost of 7,955, gave a total cost of 8,913. In accordance with the Bank's practice at that time, a valuation of the property was obtained on completion. This valuation was 6,500 and the Bank wrote off the difference (2,413) in its Balance Sheet. The two flats produced annual rental income of 90 and 50, plus Rates. The building was designed by the City Surveyor (Mr Ballard) and built by J T Harris Ltd.

A contemporary report of the new building described it as being:
three storeys in height, the building is of a substantial character. The lower storey, which forms the bank premises, is faced with Hollington stone, the two upper storeys (two residential flats) being of Leicestershire sand faced bricks, and the roof of green Westmoreland slates. The design is in a simple classical style eminently suited to the locality and purpose of the building, and is alike dignified and imposing. A notable feature of the elevation is the circular portico supported on Doric columns. The banking hall, with a ceiling having low plaster relief, is light and spacious, and fitted in Honduras mahogany. A counter 50 feet in length is provided, with ample clerical space at the back. The flats are well appointed, and have a separate entrance from the banking portion. The building is of fireproof construction.
 
The early history of the branch featured issues with public lavatories, a fish and chip shop, and a clock tower, as detailed in the Bank's Minutes.

At the date of the move to these new premises, the branch had 6,500 accounts, with balances amounting to 238,000. The growth of the branch resulted in the following report being made by the General Manager to the Bank's Committee in July 1945:
Before the War, we contemplated altering these premises to provide more accommodation. It is our largest branch, and inadequate for the business which has to be dealt with. Accommodation for the public is so limited that the depositors frequently find the bank full and leave without transacting their business. Working conditions are bad owing to the restricted space. Enlargement was discussed with the tenant (Mr N Haines, Dentist), who expressed his willingness to co-operate, if we could make satisfactory arrangements for garaging his car, and suitably enlarging his dental workshop.
It is desirable that we should provide more accommodation, and the City Surveyor has been
asked to submit proposals to meet the needs of the Bank and the tenant.
The General Manager's reference to Erdington being the largest branch refers to its number of Open Accounts. In 1947, these (at 18,888) were second only to Head Office. The branch's transactions (115,650 per annum in 1946/47) made it the busiest after Head Office, and it continued to be one of the Bank's busiest offices in future years.
OpenStreetMap contributors
= location of the permanent Erdington branch at 154 Gravelly Hill North, at the 'Six Ways' junction.
   Erdington's High Street is to the northeast of the junction.
(Photograph courtesy of
Alton Douglas:
'Birmingham Back To The Fifties', published by Brewin Books)
The tower now contains a clock
- it was previously used to
display the Bank's 'Key' logo
Three aspects of the newly completed building in 1926,
and a similar view in 1955
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