The progress of the Birmingham Municipal Bank is indicated by the fact that there are over 80,000 depositors and over £2,000,000 standing to their credit. Yesterday afternoon Mr Eldred Hallas, MP, formally opened the new premises of the Balsall Heath branch, Moseley Road, the third permanent branch of the bank. Mr Hallas took a prominent part in establishing a Corporation bank at the Council House in 1916, as a war time measure, and it was fitting that he should be identified with the opening of the permanent branch at Balsall Heath.
Prior to the opening a number of members of the City Council and friends were entertained at tea at the Moseley and Balsall Heath Institute by Councillor C T Appleby, chairman of the Bank Committee. Councillor Appleby referred to the success of the bank, and said that success was exemplified by the increased number of accounts that were being opened.
Mr Hallas said the foundation of the Birmingham Municipal Bank was well and deeply laid during the period of the Great War. In September, 1916, in a cellar at the Council House, business was commenced for the purpose of finding “silver bullets” for the Government, and of enabling depositors to make preparations for the terrible time which was to follow. The extent to which they were able to lend the Government “silver bullets” was demonstrated by the figure of £200,000 which was handed over to the National Debt Commissioners. The money was subscribed by something like 24,000 depositors. Those who took part in the formation of the bank looked farther ahead than the end of the war. They visualised the possibility of the establishment of a permanent bank which would be the means of inducing the population to subscribe to their own funds for the purpose of financing their own public institutions and municipal services at a profit to themselves. The success of the permanent bank had been such that one in every ten of the entire population of the city was a member of the bank. Over £2,000,000 stood to the credit of the 80,000 depositors. He saw the possibility of the time coming when the Corporation would no longer borrow from the ordinary joint stock bank or the ordinary moneylender, but they would be able to use the savings of the mass of the population in order to finance at a low cost the great undertakings in which they were interested. The bank was as secure as the Bank of England. The Corporation was the guarantor, both of capital and interest, and the latter, notwithstanding reductions in other quarters, still stood at 3½%. Something like 1,400 houses had been bought, or were being bought, by depositors by means of loans provided from the bank’s funds. There were 25 branches scattered throughout the city in addition to the head office at the Council House, and the branch that was being formally opened that afternoon was the third permanent building.
It was interesting to note that there were 2,500 depositors at the branch, and they had standing to their credit over £60,000. Mr Hallas went on to pay a tribute to the work of the Bank Committee and the staff, from the manager to the office boy. At one time, he continued, there were doubts whether it would be possible to get the Bank Bill through the House of Commons, but, due largely to the influence and work of Mr Neville Chamberlain, MP, the Bill became an Act, and now Birmingham was the envy of many Local Government authorities in the country.