162 Soho Road, Birmingham B21 9LN
No alternative accommodation to the Council House was initially available, as J P Hilton's book Britain's First Municipal Savings
This district proved a difficult one, so far as finding premises were concerned, and the nightly queue of depositors
gave the committee anxiety. Queues on wet nights do not tend to encourage a second visit to a Bank, but even such adverse conditions
have their amusing side. Going round on a tour of branch inspection one wet Saturday night, the writer found the usual crowd waiting
to gain admission to this small room. Attempting to enter the building he was roughly pulled back by an irate depositor and told to
take his blankety turn in the blankety queue! Recognition caused our irate friend to apologise as profusely as he had previously imprecated.
Fate decreed that our friend should arrive at the part of the Bank counter where the writer was giving a helping hand. With a very
determined intention to prove the sincerity of his apologies our friend announced he would double his deposit!
The vacant plot of land
at the corner of Grove Lane and Soho Road, surrounded by a tall hoarding and used for no better purpose than the storage of old skips
and boxes, was purchased jointly by the Bank and the Public Works and Town Planning Committee, the latter being desirous of effecting
a street widening at this point. These negotiations were successfully carried through, and on that land was built the first Municipal
Bank in this country. The widening of the street was carried out by the Public Works Department at the same time as the new Bank was
The opening of this branch took place on the 17th May, 1924, Councillor Appleby, the chairman, performing the ceremony. He
was very pleased with his position that day, and not without cause. It does not fall to many to open the first building of its kind
in a country; such a distinction cannot be conferred again. Councillor Appleby predicted great developments in what he described as
the service side of the Bank's activities, viz, the collection of gas, water and electricity accounts. Such facilities would, in his
opinion, effect considerable economies in the administration of the city, an opinion which found sympathetic expression in the assembly.
Darlington appears to have been well-pleased at the erection and opening of the Bank, for he wrote to the Handsworth Herald a letter,
from which the following is an extract:-
'When entering the Council House, Soho Road, on Saturday last, my thoughts went back to the
time when its foundation stone was laid, and the fact that during the night following some person or persons from Birmingham came
and annexed the gold, silver, and other coins that had been placed underneath the stone. When I thought of 1911, when some person
came from Birmingham and annexed the whole foundation upon which our corporate body was to have been built; and I was sorry because
"they took us in." However, we are thankful to-day that Birmingham has added to our honours, in that they have given us a building
which is the first specially built Municipal Bank. It is now for Handsworth men and women to make it the most successful and prosperous
of its kind.'
The vacant plot of land at the corner of Grove Lane and Soho Road was owned by Messrs A Clarke & Co - the portion
purchased from them by the Bank amounted to 238 square yards and cost £713. Building Plans
were lodged with the City's Engineer
& Surveyor on April 20th 1923. The erection of the branch did not get off to a smooth start. The Bank's Committee originally
accepted a tender from a Mr W E Flavell of Waterloo Road, South Yardley to erect the branch plus dwelling accommodation for the sum
of £3,650. That tender was subsequently withdrawn, and the Committee then accepted a tender from Messrs T Elvins & Sons
In addition to being the first purpose-built branch, Handsworth became the Bank's thirteenth permanent branch, and was another of
the Bank's developments completed to the design of Gerald McMichael, ARIBA.
The newly built premises in 1924 - Grove Lane is on the left
The Bank's Chairman (Councillor Appleby) speaking at the opening
Councillor Appleby performing the opening ceremony on the branch doorstep.
Two interior views of the branch in 1924
The premises are now a branch of Lloyds TSB
Handsworth is located two miles northwest of Birmingham's centre, on the main road (A41 - Soho Road/Holyhead Road) to West Bromwich.
During the 19th-Century, it became a fashionable area for the wealthy citizens of Birmingham to live in rural surroundings. Middle-class
housing followed, encouraged by the opening of railway stations at Perry Barr and Handsworth & Smethwick. Subsequent developments
provided low-density housing in the north of the district at Handsworth Wood, and working-class housing near the Soho Road.
amalgamated with Birmingham in 1911, and the Bank looked to the commercial area of the Soho Road to locate a branch. A room in the
Council House of the pre-amalgamation Handsworth Urban District Council, on the Soho Road, provided temporary premises for a full-time
daily branch from September 1st 1919.
Two early 20th-Century views of the Soho Road, Handsworth:
Left: the imposing tower of the Council House is on the right - the location
of the temporary branch
Right: trams negotiating the recently widened junction of Soho Road and Grove Lane and passing the permanent
1919 - T J Ladbrooke
1922 - E C Neighbour
1926 to 1928 - T J Ladbrooke
1929 & 1930 - A N Ling
1931 - H J Sutherland
1937 - J E Chapman
1958 to 1960 - H Huggins
1961 to 1963 - F M Thompson
1965 to 1969 - T H Mallett
1970 to 1971 - R J Fryman
- N Alsop
1974 - M J Taylor
= location of permanentHandsworth branch at the corner of Soho Road and Grove Lane
= location of temporary office in former Handsworth Council House
Handsworth Council House -
the location for the temporary branch, 1919 to 1924
Assembly at the official opening of the branch: May 17th 1924 -