The News – February 17th 1923
Much interest was displayed in the opening of the new premises of the Selly Oak branch of the Birmingham Municipal Bank at 523-525, Bristol Road, on Saturday afternoon by the Lord Mayor (Alderman David Davis, JP). Tea in the Selly Oak Technical School preceded the opening ceremony. Those present included the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, Councillor C T Appleby (the chairman of the committee of management of the bank), Alderman Simpson, Councillor and Mrs J Hart, Councillor and Mrs Hood, Councillor and Mrs Hy White, Councillor Gelling, Mr and Mrs J P Hilton (general manager of the bank), Mr and Mrs Ellison, Mr and Mrs Denson, Mr and Mrs F Wilde, Mr and Mrs Heath, Mr A Everall, and Mr and Mrs Hallas – Councillor C T Appleby (chairman of the Committee Management), in the course of a speech, pointed out that the Selly Oak branch had not been one of their successes. The reason was its unfortunate environment within a public building, where the accommodation was bad and they had not peaceful occupation, being liable to dismissal at any moment. The new building would afford an opportunity to Selly Oak to show whether there really was that spirit of thrift in the district which had been in almost every other part of the city.
Great as the development and rapid as the progress of the bank in Birmingham had been, when they compared it with Glasgow, where there was nearly 280,000 depositors (though it was true it had taken about 88 years to obtain them), it would be seen what an enormous undeveloped field of thrift there must be in the city. The Lord Mayor said there were two distinct departments of the bank, both of which were entitled not only to the consideration, but also to the thanks of the community for the work which was being done. The first was the savings department, and the second the house purchase scheme – a very fine system for enabling people to become their own house owners. He was delighted to hear the number of depositors came to nearly 95,000. That was an augury for the future, and although it was only three years old, it did show to him that in the course of 10 years’ time the bank would be something more than even the present bank at Glasgow. The bank had two and a half millions of the people’s money in its possession, and there were 1,500 borrowers – people who had bought their own houses and borrowed £400,000. It had 26 branches. At Selly Oak there were 1,000 depositors, with £26,000 to their credit. The branch was opened in 1919 for one and a half hours a day on three days a week. In future it would be opened daily, and there would be also evening openings on Saturdays and Mondays. The object achieved by the bank was that it had brought home to the 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 the dole and particularly of private charity.
His lordship, with whom was the Lady Mayoress, accompanied by members of the committee and local representatives on the City Council and their ladies, then walked in procession to the new premises, when in the presence of a large crowd the opening ceremony was performed. The Chairman having presented the Lord Mayor with a key, the latter opened the new building, and the company entered. The Lord Mayor commended its use to the people of Selly Oak as a means of thrift and provision for a rainy day, and then unveiled the commemoration tablet. On behalf of all present Councillor J Hart, addressing the Lord Mayor, Lady Mayoress, and Councillor C T Appleby, proposed a vote of thanks for their kindness in coming to take part in a ceremony of so much importance to Selly Oak. The new building provided facilities he said, which had been unknown at Selly Oak, and he expressed the opinion that such a building was justified. Comparison had been made with other banks, but he believed the working class of the district would soon realise their opportunity, and that the bank at Selly Oak would eventually rank side by side with other banks. (Applause)
Councillor H White said it gave him great pleasure to second the vote of thanks. It might be, he added, that, in that district, people were not possessed of a surplus supply of wealth to deposit in view of the continued trade depression. They hoped for a trade revival, however, and, when all were engaged, they would probably remember the kind words and sound advice which had been given that day. (Applause)
The vote of thanks having been unanimously carried, the visitors inspected the interior of the new building, and afterwards the doors were opened for business, when a waiting queue of depositors were regulated by the police, who were present in additional numbers.