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 LONGBRIDGE
30
50th
SE
1401 Bristol Road South, Birmingham B31 2SU
021-475 1339
RY
1935
 
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Herbert Austin established his car-making factory ("The Austin") in 1905 at a former tin printing and box manufacturing works - this site in the rural area of Longbridge (7 miles southwest of Birmingham's centre) was close to good rail and road communications. Expansion ensued, with production for the war effort from 1914 accelerating the process. A fleet of buses brought Austin's workers from Birmingham until housing was commenced in the area - including an estate built by Herbert Austin himself, near Longbridge station. By the late 1960s, the Longbridge works was the largest car plant in the world with approximately 25,000 employees. Production ceased at the factory in 2005. The Austin factory grew around the junction of Bristol Road South and Lickey Road (an area that became known as Longbridge Town Centre after the factory closed), but the Bank attempted to open a branch near Hawkesley Mill Lane about 1-miles away.
 
A branch named Longbridge was opened (on August 20th 1920) during the Bank's first year of operation - the first Report and Statement of Accounts at March 31st 1920, stated that the branch's address was 'Brooksyde', near Hawkesley Mill Lane; the opening hours were Fridays 17:45 to 19:45. (This location was described in another part of the Bank's records as a room on premises adjoining Messrs Morland & Impeys Works; whilst another reference was to a house known as 'Brookside' which was opposite Morland & Impey). This site would have been close to the housing estate developed by Herbert Austin, but the branch was closed June 10th 1921, and the balances transferred to Northfield. In the period of less than 10 months that the office was open, only 49 New Accounts were opened; Deposits totalled 1,272; Withdrawals 764; and there were 381 transactions. The branch was staffed by a Miss Hedderley and an Alfred Dobson who were paid 5/- and 2/6d per session respectively; room rental was 5/- per evening.
 
However,  Britain's First Municipal Savings Bank (published in 1927) states that a room at Hawkesley Hall is being used as a new branch since its opening on November 8th 1924 (Open: Saturdays 13:00 to 14:30). Hawkesley Hall was located about 1-miles away from Hawkesley Mill Lane in West Heath, but confusingly, Hawkesley House at Longbridge/Turves Green was known locally as Hawkesley Hall - this was the probable site of the branch. Hawkesley House has long since disappeared, but was originally near to the junction of Longbridge Lane and Turves Green Road. 'Hawkesley Hall' is listed as the address for Longbridge branch, in the Bank's Annual Reports from 1925 to 1931. From May 8th 1926, the hours changed to 12:30 to 14:00. (see Statistics relating to these two periods.) The decision to try again in 1924 to establish a Longbridge branch was made on the premise that a network of sub-branches (to Northfield branch) would be economic and efficient in a area where the inhabitants were scattered. Room rental for the limited opening hours at Longbridge was 7/6d.
 
Commencing with the 1926 Annual Report, Longbridge is listed as one of three sub-branches of Northfield branch. The other sub-branches were Rubery (opened February 6th 1925 at 4 Cock Hill Lane - Tuesdays 12:30 to 14:00) and Rednal (opened May 3rd 1926 at 399 Lickey Road - Mondays 12:30 to 14:00). By November 30th 1926, total Deposits at Longbridge had reached 3,038; at the same date the figures for Rubery were 2,964 and Rednal 204.
 
Northfield branch itself, was opened as a part-time daily branch in new premises from May 1st 1926, with its staff also attending at Longbridge, Rubery, and Rednal. The books for these three sub-branches were held at Northfield, thus allowing depositors of the three sub-branches to transact business at the daily branch if they wished to do so.
 
In 1927, the Bank applied to the Estates Department to purchase a plot of land belonging to the City Council at the corner of Bristol Road South and Hawkesley Mill Lane. The Council agreed to transfer the land to the Bank, but it transpired that a restrictive covenant limited building on the plot to housing only. Attention then turned to a plot of land owned by the Water Department at the junction of Bristol Road South and Lickey Road. The Water Department agreed to the Bank placing a wooden building (previously used as a temporary branch at Little Bromwich) on the site for the nominal sum of 1 per annum. However, despite this new site being adjacent to Austin's Longbridge factory, it was not used to transfer accounts from Hawesley Mill Lane, but used to amalgamate the two other sub-branches: Rubery and Rednal. This new branch was named Rednal and Rubery - it was opened on August 27th  1928; the address was 1547 Bristol Road South. At March 31st 1929, the branch had balances of 9,220 in 228 accounts.
 
With the Rednal and Rubery branch being close to the Austin factory, where the number of employees was increasing, the branch's hours of business were augmented to 12:30pm to 2pm on four days a week from January 1st 1930 (Mondays; Tuesdays; Wednesdays; and Fridays) - the times coinciding with the lunch break at the factory.
 

From July 31st 1931, Northfield became a full-time daily branch, making it impossible for the same staff to work that office and its two sub-branches. Accordingly, the Longbridge branch at Hawkesley Mill Lane was closed and the accounts transferred to Northfield. The Rednal and Rubery branch became an independent unit from the same date. Despite its previous advantage of having opening hours at lunch times, the Rednal and Rubery branch was switched to being an Evening Branch on Mondays and Fridays at 6pm to 8pm. Not surprisingly, the development of the Rednal and Rubery branch with just evening hours was not satisfactory, and negotiations were commenced to purchase 500 square yards of land near the junction of Bristol Road South and Broughton Crescent. The plot of land on the Tessall Farm Estate had a frontage of 10 yards to Bristol Road South. The cost of this purchase was 375, the transaction being handled by the Bank's valuer, Frank Wilde. The Bank's 1935 Annual Report states that 'new buildings are being erected at Longbridge .... to take the place of temporary premises'. This reference to 'temporary premises' referred to the wooden building opposite the Austin Motor Company's works that housed the Rednal and Rubery Evening Branch.

 

After the land was purchased in 1934, Arthur L Horsburgh was asked to design a permanent branch building. The contract was awarded to J Emlyn Williams. Unfortunately, Mr Horsburgh died before the building was completed and the final part of the project was supervised by John Surman. The new branch was named  "Longbridge" and the balances of the Rednal and Rubery branch were transferred there when it opened on September 7th 1935. The new building was at 1401 Bristol Road South and was formally opened by the Lord Mayor (Alderman S J Grey), as Longbridge branch; standard daily opening hours were adopted. The Lord Mayor was presented with a silver inkstand as a souvenir of the occasion.

 

Replacing Rednal and Rubery branch is the likely reason that Longbridge was given the Designatory Letters 'RY'. The new premises commenced with 915 accounts, with total credit balances amounting to 35,532, transferred from Rednal and Rubery.
right:
The new premises at 1401 Bristol Road South (1935)
right:
A small crowd gathers prior to the opening ceremony of the new premises:
September 7th 1935
below:
The Lord Mayor, and other distinguished guests, assemble at the branch entrance, where the Bank's Chairman (Councillor A H Cooper) then speaks to the crowd
 
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Managers:
1958 & 1959 - H G Williams
1960 to 1971 - W Brown
1971 - D G Smith
1972 - G H Pardoe
OpenStreetMap contributors
= location of permanent Longbridgebranch at 1401 Bristol Road South
               - immediately to the north of the former Austin motorworks which straddled Bristol Road South
below:
The Lord Mayor speaking at a tea held prior to the branch opening ceremony
above:
Branch interior in 1935
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Premises
 
= location of Rednal and Rubery branch at 1457 Bristol Road South
 
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