479 Coventry Road, Birmingham B10 0JS
021-772 0644
The district of Small Heath, some two miles southeast of the city centre, developed around a section of the Birmingham to Coventry highway. By the early 19th-century, a sparsely populated rural area began to see the building of large houses for upper middle-class people escaping the industrial development of central Birmingham. The latter half of the 19th-century saw more working-class houses built, and by the beginning of the 20th-century, Small Heath was thickly populated. A major employer in the area was the Birmingham Small Arms Company - founded 1861. Small Heath became a popular area for Asian immigrants in the second half of the 20th-century.
One of the Bank's full-time branches at September 1st 1919, Small Heath was at first located in one of the ticket offices in Green Lane Baths. This temporary arrangement was soon supplanted by a move to the main street in the Small Heath area (Coventry Road) when the branch was transferred to premises at number 417, on October 8th 1919.
J P Hilton's book (Britain's First Municipal Savings Bank) recorded this move as being:
an improvement, although the premises could not be looked upon as permanent. They could, however, claim 'a certain liveliness', in that we had a joiner and carpenter plying his trade on the floor above, entertaining us with the hammering of wood and the swish of the saw. By way of variation he occasionally enlivened the proceedings during the dinner hour with tunes from his violin!
The branch's temporary premises:
(l) Green Lane Baths (from September 1st 1919)
(r) 417 Coventry Road (from October 8th 1919) where the name of the branch was inscribed on the side window next to the door.
below: The Lord Mayor arriving for the opening ceremony of the new premises at 479 Coventry Road (right) on September 25th 1922; on his right is the Bank's Chairman (Councillor C T Appleby).
The architect for the new branch was Gerald McMichael with the work being carried out by F J Briley at a cost of 1,286
below: The Lord Mayor speaking at the opening ceremony -
see Newspaper Report of the occasion
Interior of branch in 1922
below: exterior and interior of the branch following the 1924 extension along Langley Road (to the right of the photograph)
The premises are now mainly occupied by the Salama Somali Restaurant. Few of the original features of the branch remain, the Hollingsworth stone having been covered by cladding, except for a small section in Langley Road (below right) where a sign still states that the car park is for the use of TSB customers
It enables the youngest to share in its activities; it teaches them the principles of thrift; and the examples which the children set will be imitated by the fathers and mothers who will see there is something more than merely receiving their wages on Friday and spending them on Monday, because they will be able to recognise there comes sooner or later a sad time for most of us.
Other Municipalities are watching Birmingham very closely, and many desire to follow her footsteps. A deputation from a neighbouring borough is visiting the city tomorrow to see how we do the trick, and how they can do the same for the benefit of their own people; and I believe the time will come - unless the joint stock banks are too powerful and prevent Parliament passing the Bill - when other Municipalities must have the same facilities for enabling their people to save as Birmingham already possesses.

J P Hilton's book also reported that
Small Heath depositors have been so enthusiastic that they have compelled the committee to provide additional accommodation. It was no uncommon sight to see the queue system in operation, particularly at nights. Steps were taken to enlarge the premises by erecting a building, along Langley Road and joining it to the existing premises.
The inadequacy of the premises was highlighted in October 1923 and negotiations were commenced with Mrs Neale, the original owner of the premises who leased accommodation above and to the rear of the branch. By January 1924, Mrs Neale had agreed to surrender her lease after alternative accommodation was found and compensation of 500 was paid. The original architect/builder combination of McMichael and Briley extended the branch along Langley Road at a cost of 1,793. The resulting office became one of the Bank's largest units - the existing property retained a main door across the angle of the corner site, but also incorporated a second door for depositors to enter from Langley Road. By 1926, only Head Office had a greater amount of Deposit balances.
The Bank's 1934 Annual Report commented that 'Substantial extensions have taken place at Small Heath .... resulting in the provision of better accommodation for depositors.' This referred to the enlargement of "domestic offices and the extension of storage accommodation" and may be when a second strongroom was installed. The architect was J S Surman and the builder was Messrs J & W Malley.


Except for the removal of the 'Key' logo and the change of design in the etched glass of the three windows, the Coventry Road side of the branch shows little alteration from some 46 years previously
(Photograph courtesy of Alton Douglas: 'Birmingham in the Seventies & Eighties',
published by Brewin Books)
The number of depositors at March 31st 1920 was 2,392 (only Head Office: 17,381 and Sparkbrook: 4,870 having more) which required the Bank to seek more suitable accommodation, particularly as the lease on the temporary premises at 417 Coventry Road neared its expiration date of September 29th 1922. Towards the end of 1921, a freehold dwelling-house with grounds attached were secured for the sum of 1,100. The property at 479 Coventry Road was used to create a branch office by amalgamating two of the ground floor rooms. The adjacent plan shows the property's location at the corner of Coventry Road and Langley Road. Building Plans were lodged with the City's Engineer & Surveyor on March 14 1922.
These reconstructed premises were opened on September 25th 1922 by the Lord Mayor (Alderman David Davis, JP) who, during the course of his remarks, said:
When the history of the activities of the city of the last decade comes to be written, the historian will have many good things to say as to what Birmingham has done. Most of it will be in connection with the great war. Many good things have been done, and the city has, on many occasions, set an example to the rest of the country, which has been followed to the advantage of citizens in other large towns.
But I venture to think nothing that has happened in connection with the Municipality has done more good and is likely to become more successful, than the institution of the Municipal Savings Bank.
1919 - W I Wynn
1922 - H G Wright
1926 - A F Lambeth
1926 to 1928 - H B Davis
1929 & 1930 - F W Whitehouse
1931 to 1934 - J W Raftery
1937 - A F Lambeth

1958 - C Selwyn
1959 - S F Jones
1960 & 1961 - J Holmes
1963 to 1970 - G T Edwards
1971 - S Gregory
1972 to 1974 - S C Stringer
OpenStreetMap contributors
= location of permanent branch at 479 Coventry Road.
   Green Lane, the site of the first temporary office, is at the top of the map.
= location of second temporary office at 417 Coventry Road
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