161 Stratford Road, Birmingham B11 1RB
Sparkbrook branch shares the distinction with five other branches (Head Office; Aston; Handsworth; Lozells; and Small Heath) of being
one of the daily offices of the Bank from Day 1 - September 1st 1919
. The premises used for these branches were temporary, and in
the case of Sparkbrook, the meat hooks and slabs of a butcher's shop at 163 Stratford Road (opposite Farm Road) remained on view.
The branch's hours of opening were the standard ones
that applied to all daily branches.
However, Sparkbrook had the unique distinction
of being the Bank's first permanent branch, when a reconstruction of 161 and 163 Stratford Road was formally opened on July 25th 1921
by Neville Chamberlain. The design used for the reconstruction (see Branch Architecture
) became the standard design for many subsequent
alterations, and for completely new builds.
Speaking to the assembled crowd at the opening ceremony, Neville Chamberlain said:
I look at the position today, I cannot help thinking of the marvellous progress that has been made. It reminds me of the tale of the
man who set out to catch a boat. The boat was just leaving the quay, and being anxious to catch it the man took a running jump and
landed on the vessel a trifle dazed. On recovering himself and looking round he noticed the boat was some distance from the quay and
exclaimed, 'My, what a jump!'
Those of us who have been associated with the movement from the beginning, feel that the Bank will be
an immense bulwark in the sense of security, contentment and self-respect of the community, and the remarkable progress of the Bank
gives much satisfaction.
Mr Eldred Hallas, MP, in proposing a toast of thanks, said:
The Bank is bound to succeed; it has gained an
assured position and justified the action of those who proceeded with the scheme in the early days. The opportunities are unlimited;
I can conceive of the time when the ordinary floating of Corporation stock will pass away.
The name of Mr Chamberlain will always be
associated with it. The father of Mr Chamberlain established things, did things, accomplished things, in this city, and his name lives
on that account. His worthy son will always be able to look at the time when, after much hard work in piloting Bills through the House
of Commons, the Bank came into existence. It is an example of something actually done.
Neville Chamberlain inspects the branch's Commemoration Tablet
Neville Chamberlain leaving after the opening ceremony
Interior of Sparkbrook branch after the first alteration in 1921 - Commemoration Tablet at right
Interior of branch after second alteration: July 1926. The door to the office at the far end of the counter is inscribed: NEW
Branch Deposit Balances at March 31st:
1921 - £148,541
1926 - £495,162
1946 - £1,151,432
1947 - £1,196,867
Number of Open Accounts
at March 31st:
1920 - 4,870
1927 - 15,430
1947 - 12,469 (Savings: 12,444; Mortgage: 25)
Average Weekly Transactions:
1920 - 903
- Year Ended March 31st 1947: 44,198
The distinguished guests inside the branch as part of the opening ceremony.In the left foreground of the photograph is the clerk's
desk with its bound ledgers
1919 - H Carver
first days at the temporary branch
1926 - H B Davis
1926 - A M Hodgkins
1928 to 1929 - J W Raftery
1930 - A T Guest
1931 - F H Whitehouse
1934 - S Brotherton
- H E Shaw
1959 - K R Willingham
1960 & 1961 - H G Williams
1963 to 1966 - W H Stanton
1967 to 1970 - H W Powell
1971 & 1972
- M J Taylor
1972 - M P Bourke
1974 - P Taylor
1976 - D J Glenn
The district of Sparkbrook is located just to the southeast of Birmingham's centre. The spread of building from Birmingham's centre
into this area at the end of the 19th-century followed the line of the Stratford Road to its junction with the Warwick Road. This
main road through the area became a continuous shopping street with housing located on the roads off it. By the beginning of the 20th-century,
this area between Balsall Heath and Small Heath had a dense mixture of poor quality and good quality Victorian housing.
= location of branch at 161 Stratford Road
Thus, the temporary premise at 163 Stratford Road (right) was the branch's initial address, until the Bank was able to purchase the
next-door greengrocer's shop at 161 to accommodate the construction of the permanent branch. The end of July 1926 saw the completion
of a further enlargement (by taking in back premises) in order to accommodate one of the Bank's busiest offices.
The temporary premises, after the addition of the adjoining unit, were reconstructed by Frederick J Briley of Hay Mills. The architect
was Gerald McMichael, and the building was formally opened on July 25th 1921 by Neville Chamberlain (below right). Prior to the opening,
the Bank's Chairman, Councillor Appleby (below left), spoke to the gathered assembly. The occasion was reported in the local press.
The facade of Sparkbrook is the template for many future branches. However, there is yet no incorporation of the 'key' logo, and the
Bank's title is very indistinct
Stratford Road in the 1950s
(Photograph courtesy of Alton Douglas: 'Birmingham in the Fifties - Vol 2', published by Brewin
The premises are now ocupied by the Sparkbrook Somalian Community Youth Centre and a clothes shop