523 Bristol Road, Birmingham B29 6AU
021-472 0214
On December 6th 1921, the Bank Committee was able to report to the City Council that Your Committee have for some time been desirous of obtaining suitable premises to serve the needs of Selly Oak and Bournbrook  districts, and have now been successful in securing property which they feel can be suitably adapted as permanent premises for this district.
The property, which is situated at numbers 523 and 525 Bristol Road, is freehold, and consists of two dwelling-houses with shops. The dwelling accommodation of No 523 is sublet at a rental of 8s. 6d. per week, including rates, and the shop is vacant; while No 525 (shop and dwelling-house) is sublet at a rental of 42 per annum, the tenant paying rates. It is hoped to be able to obtain possession of this last-named shop shortly after Christmas.
Your Committee have agreed to purchase the property for the sum of 1,350, such amount to be defrayed out of the funds of the Bank, and in accordance with No 10 of the Bank Rules, they ask for the approval of the Council to their action.
With one of the shops, and both dwelling-houses, having tenants, there was a considerable delay before the Bank was able to make the structural alterations required to adapt the property to their purpose. Moreover, owing to the fact that there was no means of supplying electric light to the new premises, arrangements were made with the Gas Department to put in a temporary supply.The agreement for the use of the room at the Selly Oak Institute was subject to three months' notice, and the Town Clerk was duly authorised to give notice to the West Birmingham Friends' Halls of the intention to quit the Institute on or before March 25th 1923. Building Plans were lodged with the City's Engineer & Surveyor on May 8th 1922. The initial adaptation of these two shops for the Bank's purposes was carried out by F J Briley for the sum of 892 - the architect was Gerald McMichael.
The branch at 523 and 525 Bristol Road was opened on February 10th 1923 by the Lord Mayor, Alderman David Davis. In a reflection of the economic facts of the time, the Lord Mayor said that "the Bank had brought home to them [the assembled people] the necessity of being very careful in good times, and of putting something away so that they might have money at their disposal when bad times came, keeping them away from the Guardians and making them independent of private charity." The "Guardians" was presumably a reference to the Boards of Guardians, administrators of workhouses under the Poor Law, which were not dismantled until 1930. The workhouse of the old Kings Norton Union was situated nearby; it later became Selly Oak Hospital.
The branch premises were enlarged to include the dwelling houses at the rear of the shops in 1931. The architect was Stewart Evans and the work was done by E M Squire for the sum of 1,950.
The properties at 525 and 523 Bristol Road (the numbers carved in stone at first floor level), after conversion in 1923. Unusually, the words 'Municipal Bank' appear at the foot of the entrance doors
left (February 10th 1923):
Amongst those gathered for the branch opening are the Lord Mayor (third from left); Eldred Hallas, MP (fourth from left); and the Bank's Chairman, Councillor Appleby (sixth from left). Frank Ellison (the Bank's Deputy General Manager) is second from right -
see Newspaper Report of the occasion
The Commemoration Tablet, which can be seen on the wall of the branch, below
the premises are now occupied by a restaurant,
but still have the numbers 525 and 523 at first floor level
When the Bank's Committee were considering the purchase of these two properties, they were shown a plan of the site and were informed that the purchase was subject to the following restrictive covenants so that the Bank would be prevented:
(a) from using the premises for a public house or for the manufacture or sale of malt liquors etc, and
(b) from opening any windows overlooking adjoining property on the south-west side
The district of Selly Oak/Bournbrook had a population of about 31,000 when it became part of Birmingham in 1911. This sizeable population was the result of industries and housing being established in the area where important road, canal, and rail routes were concentrated: the junction of the Bristol Road (A38) with Oak Tree Lane/Harborne Lane; about 3-miles southwest of the city centre. The Victorian and Edwardian houses from this period of growth were later utilised to accommodate students at the nearby Birmingham University.
At the Bank's commencement on September 1st 1919, Selly Oak was a part-time branch opening on Monday, Friday, and Saturday evenings from 18:00 to 19:30.
The branch was located in a room at The Selly Oak Institute, High Street (Right)
With reference to the temporary premises, the Bank's General Manager commented in his book Britain's First Municipal Savings Bank that:
for some years that accommodation had to suffice. It was difficult to induce people to do their banking in this room, one reason being there was too much publicity; another reason was uncertainty as to the particular room which would be used, owing to the demand for accommodation at the institute being so great.

An early 20th-Century view of Bristol Road, Selly Oak, with Harrow Road on the left. The premises that were later acquired for the permanent branch can be glimpsed on the right - between the cyclist in white and the gas lamp.
OpenStreetMap contributors
= location of the permanent branch, just south of Birmingham University
= location of the temporary branch when housed in the Selly Oak Institute
1922 - W F Heath
1926 - F H De Ville
1928 & 1929 - A H Read
1930 & 1931 - J Baker
1934 - E H Viney
1937 - R H Earp
1947 - S F Jones
1958 & 1959 - H G Payne
1960 & 1961 - R T Piper
1963 to 1970 - H G Williams
1971 - S C Stringer
1972 to 1974 - W Porritt
The General Manager was more forthright in a subsequent report to the Bank's Committee in 1921: On visiting these premises on Friday last, the [General] Manager found the Bank turned out of their room and placed in another room, owing to the Guardians having commandeered the room for relief purposes. The arrangements for conducting this Branch are most unsatisfactory: the necessary book-keeping has to be done either by bringing the books in to Head Office or by the Clerk, who is an official of the Bank, taking them home to do so. We are not allowed to remain in the premises beyond 7.30, and it does not give the Bank Staff time to balance the books and cash in a reasonable manner. The risks being taken at this Branch are more than the Manager feels any official should be asked to take.
The Bank's management were therefore anxious to find more suitable accommodation as soon as possible, and in 1921 Frank Wilde (the Bank's Valuer) obtained a tentative agreement with the owner (a Mr Holmes) of a freehold property at 523/525 Bristol Road to sell for the sum of 1,350. Mr Wilde was also able to obtain agreement that a party entrance that gave access to part of the premises at the rear could be modified for the Bank's purpose.
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