156 Alum Rock Road, Birmingham B8 1HU
021-327 0597
The original "little wooden hut" after the hours of business had been increased to four days per week
below:  Now with daily opening, the hut has been
             extended further into Bowyer Road
'Westhulme Villas' (154 & 156 Alum Rock Road), the two shop units purchased by the Bank for reconstruction as a permanent branch
below (May 16th 1925): On the occasion of the official opening of the new premises, the dignitaries assemble in front of the temporary branch. The Bank's General Manager (J P Hilton) is fifth from right, and his Deputy (Frank Ellison) is on the extreme left of the photograph - see Newspaper Report of the occasion
below:    'Westhulme Villas' after reconstruction 
left:    The Lord Mayor (Percival Bower) performs the opening
            ceremony for the new branch
below: The opening ceremony speeches continue inside the branch 
Historically part of the manor of Aston, Saltley became a suburb of Birmingham in 1891 as the area grew with the development of the railway and gas industries. Saltley was then on the eastern outskirts of the city, about two miles from the centre, and was soon densely populated with good quality, working-class housing. The Saltley/Nechells area became a major producer for all aspects of the railway industry, and the gasworks was the largest in Europe.

The first premises to be used for a BMB branch were located at the corner of Alum Rock Road and Bowyer Road, on a vacant plot of land belonging to Ansells Brewery. The building used was described as a "little wooden hut" (see photograph below), but was in fact a fireman's shelter which had, apparently, been removed in the dead of night from Hagley Road.

Ansells not only permitted the hut to remain on their land for a number of years, but also did not charge the Bank any rent. Business commenced in these temporary premises on September 2nd 1919, with openings on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. These alternate days were worked in conjunction with Duddeston branch's Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Despite being located in a small hut, the branch became very popular and Mondays were added to the opening hours from April 12th 1920, to become:
Mondays and Tuesdays - 10:00 to 14:30
Thursdays and Saturdays - 10:00 to 13:00
Monday and Saturday Evenings - 17:30 to 19:30
Full-time hours commenced on Monday, November 1st 1920, for both Saltley and Duddeston.

The close proximity of the Bank's hut to another wooden building that belonged to the Young Women's Christian Association, created some confusion - such as the time a young lady walked up to the Bank counter and requested a bath! In addition to causing confusion to the public, using a hut as a branch created a number of problems including these detailed in a report dated October 10th 1921: The arrangements for bringing cash down to a safe at Duddeston do not give one confidence. The safe can only be kept in the inner room at Duddeston, and is in a very exposed condition. Despite the views of the Guarantee Society, the  [General] Manager is of opinion that there is less risk in leaving the cash at Saltley Branch than there is by transferring it to Duddeston as at present. The likelihood of burglary at the Hut is less than under the present arrangements. Water has now been connected to the Hut, and a lavatory basin installed. The difficulty of WC accommodation still remains. The roof has been leaking, and instructions have been given for the necessary repairs.
Following this report, it was decided that the daily system of transferring cash between Saltley and Duddeston was unreasonable and constituted a personal risk to the officers concerned. The solution was for a large safe (described as 12 corner bent steel) to be fixed in position under the counter at Saltley, and the existing inadequate safe returned to the makers in accordance with a contractual agreement for returns at the current market price. At this date, the branch had been operating in the hut for some two years - apparently without water or a toilet, presumably relying on the co-operation of neighbouring premises to provide basic facilities.
In 1923, premises at 219 and 221 Alum Rock Road were considered as a possible site for a permanent branch but it was decided they were not in the most favourable position. Instead, attention was turned to another property on the same road, opposite Edmund Road and nearer to the city centre. The 696-square yard leasehold property (with 67 years to run) comprised two shops and a dwelling-house at 154 and 156 Alum Rock Road. The purchase of these properties did not proceed smoothly as the following report of January 11th 1924 indicates:

On the 19th November by Minute No 1575 the Bank Committee approved of the purchase of the .... premises for a sum not exceeding 2,000. At this time it was anticipated the property might then be purchased, but suddenly the owner of No 156 declined to sell to the Corporation at all, and transferred his instructions from one Solicitor to another.


The Chairman (Councillor Appleby) and the General Manager made every effort to get the property placed on sale again through the offices of Mr Upton, Solicitor, into whose hands the business had been transferred, and were at last able to come to an arrangement that the purchase price of No 156 to be 1,000. This price added to the 1,050 already agreed upon in respect of No 154 brings the total to 2,050 or 50 more than was originally authorised. It was felt, however, that the Bank could not risk the loss of this property, having regard to the conditions under which the Saltley Bank is conducted and to the fact that we have no tenancy. The Chairman and the General Manager therefore undertook to purchase at the price named. The contracts in each case have been signed, and the deposits paid in respect of No 154 by Mr Wilde who has purchased on the understanding that he will be reimbursed. So far as No 156 is concerned, the purchase has been effected in the name of the Chairman (Councillor Appleby) as the only possible way to get a definite contract entered into. The Committee are asked to sanction the steps taken, and to give directions for negotiations to be commenced for the purchase of the freehold.


So far as No 154 is concerned, possession can be obtained in six months' time, but so far as No 156 is concerned the purchase is subject to the present lease which expires in March 1926.


In view of the difficulties of altering one shop at a time, and the extra expense involved in such alterations, and as there would be a period of one year and nine months during which No 154 would be vacant, the General Manager recommends that efforts be made to come to terms with the present tenant of No 156 for earlier possession to be obtained, thus enabling the structural alterations to be made to both shops together.
In April 1924, negotiations were concluded for the surrender of the lease of 156 Alum Rock Road at a cost of 225, with the tenant to give vacant possession by July 31st. At the same time, agreement was made with Mr F W D Pinney, acting for The Trustees of Lord Norton's Estate, to purchase the freehold of numbers 154 and 156 for the sum of 222, plus Solicitor's and Surveyor's costs, in lieu of a ground rent of 7 8s 0d per year. Building Plans were lodged with the City's Engineer & Surveyor on August 12th 1924. By October 1924, a contract had been placed with a Mr E M Squire to adapt the premises to the Bank's requirements and the Bank's seventeenth permanent branch was formally opened on May 16th 1925, by the Lord Mayor (Alderman Percival Bower). The Architect for the reconstruction of the premises (which cost 1,270) was Gerald McMichael. Further enlargement was made in 1932 when R Fenwick Limited tendered 1,540 for work designed by W Norman Twist.
Right: early 20th-Century view of Alum Rock Road (with Bowyer Road on the left) shows a tram approaching from the direction of Birmingham's city centre. The tram is passing the future location of the Bank's Saltley branch.
OpenStreetMap contributors
= location of the permanent branch at 156 Alum Rock Road,
         close to the junction of Bowyer Road - site of the temporary hut
1919 - H H Crump
1921 - S E Bennett
1925 - H E Martin
1926 - J W Raftery
1928 - L A Wright
1929 to 1931 - W James
1934 - L A Wright
1937 - Saltley
1958 & 1959 - J A Smith
1960 & 1961 - K R Willingham
1963 to 1965 - A Morgan
1966 to 1967 - J E Ager
1969 - R Gregory
1970 & 1971 - H Calver
1972 - G Hidson
1973 & 1974 - N Alsop
1974 - S C Stringer
2018:  the branch is now occupied by TSB Bank
The total number of open accounts at the date the branch was transferred to permanent premises in 1925 was 5,823, with 198,321 standing to their credit. Annual transactions on those account amounted to 37,430.
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