Birmingham News – February 11th 1924
The remarkable growth of the Birmingham Municipal Bank was illustrated once again on Saturday last, when new premises were opened in High Street, Harborne, by Councillor C T Appleby, JP (Chairman of Committee). A number of ladies and gentlemen foregathered in the afternoon at Ashfield, Harborne Park Road, the residence of Councillor Appleby, where the tea was served. The Lord Mayor (Alderman T O Williams), who was accompanied by the Lady Mayoress (Miss Williams), presided, and, after tea, formally opened the proceedings, with the remark that he was in the unique position of introducing Councillor Appleby in his own house. Councillor Appleby, he added, had made himself acquainted with the work of the Municipal Bank since its inception, and the success of the bank could only be described as phenomenal. He congratulated Councillor Appleby upon his appointment to the Magisterial Bench, where he was sure he would assist in dealing out justice to those who appeared before him. (Applause.)
Councillor Appleby, acknowledging the Lord Mayor’s congratulations, reminded the assembly that they could also congratulate the Lord Mayor himself, because his name was included among the new Justices of the Peace for Birmingham.
Councillor Appleby reviewed the history of the bank. The Birmingham Municipal Bank, he said, was only four years old, but already there were 120,000 depositors and over £3,800,000 was standing to their credit. It was on July 29th 1919, that the City Council, anxious to get away on holidays – (laughter) – gave what was practically a ‘blank cheque’ to the Savings Bank Committee to take premises and establish branches. At that time the Bill had not passed through the House of Commons, and it was not until August 15th, 1919, that statutory powers to proceed with the scheme were obtained.
In Small Heath they could not obtain suitable premises, and, for a time, they had to rely upon the Baths Committee, who gave them the use of a window usually occupied for the passing out of tickets for soap and towels. From that small beginning sprang the present Small Heath branch, which now held deposits of £350,000. For the Sparkbrook branch, in Stratford Road, an empty butcher’s shop was taken over. Adjoining shops were subsequently taken in, and at the present time that branch had approximately the same amount of deposits as the one at Small Heath.
At Saltley they opened a bank in an old watchman’s hut, and this little wooden building had developed into one of the most successful of the branches. At Duddeston they took over a building which had been a public-house, and at the present time they often had customers who remembered paying their first deposits into what had been the public-house till. At Saltley there was over £140,000 on deposit, and at Duddeston – one of the poorest districts of the city – they had over £100,000. (Applause.)
The bank they were now opening was the 20th daily branch, and they hoped that the time was not far distant when the number would be increased to 40. The number of accounts opened in January was far in excess of any opened during any previous month, for 1,900 new depositors had been received.
The company then proceeded to the new branch in the High Street, where a large number of interested spectators had assembled, including many new depositors. After a formal introduction to the waiting crowd, the Lord Mayor briefly recounted the advantages to investors in the bank, and wished continued success to the institution, after which he presented Councillor Appleby with a key with which to perform the opening ceremony. This was a signal for exertion on the part of the guests, depositors, and an interested crowd to gain admission, after which the Lord Mayor asked Councillor Appleby to perform the opening ceremony by unveiling the commemoration tablet on the wall:- Birmingham Municipal Bank, established by Act of Parliament, Aug. 15th, 1919. This tablet records the opening of this branch of the Bank on 2nd February, 1924, by Councillor C T Appleby, Chairman of the Committee of Management.
A hearty vote of thanks was accorded the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress for their presence, and to Councillor and Mrs Appleby for the hearty and generous manner in which they had received the guests. Immediately following a flash-light photographer’s operations, the clerks became engaged in receiving deposits.
A spirit of friendly rivalry was manifested to become the first depositor. Meanwhile, his Lordship, officials, and assembled guests made an inspection of the premises, and expressed satisfaction at the general arrangements. Others present included Mr and Mrs Kenneth March, ex-Councillor Appleton, JP, Mr Hilton (general manager), Mr Wilde, Alderman H Simpson and Miss Simpson, Councillor R R Gelling and Mrs Gelling, Mr Eldred Hallas and Mrs Hallas, Mrs Higgins, Dr and Mrs Middleton, Mr and Mrs Marshall Freeman, Mrs Hilton, Mr F Ellison (assistant general manager) and Mrs Ellison, Mr and Mrs Frank Wilde, Mr and Mrs H G Wright, Mr W Ballard, Mr and Mrs J H Hart, Mr A Everall, Miss M Nolan, Mr E Brookes and Mrs Brookes, Mr and Mrs March, Messrs John Oldfield, W E Hardwick, W Kirk, and F R Logan.
At the Harborne branch at 31st January, 1924, the amount standing to the credit of depositors was £50,120 and the number of depositors was 1,450, giving an average per depositor of £34 11s. 4d.