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
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.
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.