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Committee Minutes: Hay Mills Branch
 
The following Minutes have been extracted from the records of the Bank's
General Committee and its Sub-Committees in the period June 1921 to October 1921.
The Minutes cover the period when the management was discussing the lack of progress
at the branch in relation to its opening hours and its temporary location.
Hay Mills was eventually opened in permanent premises on March 21st 1925.
 

The Bank attempted to open a viable branch at Hay Mills from its commencement on September 1st 1919. The premises were initially opened as an Evening Branch in what was described as a "shop [that] had been used as a hand-laundry". The branch's lack of progress called into the question the desirability of opening on a part-time or a full-time basis, and eventually, whether the location was correct - the premises being described (in October 1921) as "Office damp. Paper coming off the walls. This property is not worth acquiring, and is hardly in the right position. To transfer to South Yardley might improve matters, but much depends upon the affect which the new BSA Works will have in the district."

 

During part of this period, Mr J Kesterton was placed in charge of the branch, although he had initially been recruited for his promotional and propaganda skills and not for any banking knowledge or bookkeeping ability.

 

The deliberations as to how to improve business at Hay Mills were considered by the Finance and General Purposes Sub-Committee  on June 13th 1921:
 

The following Reports of the [General] Manager on the Hay Mills Branch were received:

 

[General] Manager's Report upon the working of Hay Mills Branch and the manner in which Mr Kesterton discharges his duties.

 

The Bank Committee on 4th October 1920 passed the following resolution:-

That Mr Kesterton be placed in temporary charge of the Hay Mills Branch for a period of six months, the [General] Manager to then report upon the working of the Branch and the manner in which Mr Kesterton discharges his duties.

 

Dealing with the first part of such resolution, the [General] Manager submits herewith particulars of the business transacted at Hay Mills Branch during three distinct periods, viz:- (1) Up to June 12th 1920, when the Branch was open three evenings per week with Mr Teale in charge; (2) Up to October 23rd, when the Branch was worked by staff from Head Office during the same hours of opening; and (3) from the 25th October to 14th March, during which period the Branch was open daily with Mr Kesterton in charge. The Committee will better appreciate the position of this Branch by referring to these periods:-

 

 

Average No of

new accounts

per opening

Average No of

Transactions

per opening

Average

deposits

per opening

Average

repayments

per opening

1st period

7

64

94

36

2nd period

4

60

76

44

3rd period

2

28

48

22

 

There can be no doubt that the influence of Mr Teale was considerable in this district during the period he was in charge. He was successful in attracting money to the Bank, but he was not a clerk, and the bookkeeping irregularities became so marked that other arrangements had to be made. The work could not be satisfactorily performed as a permanent arrangement by Head Office staff, and the points which influenced the Committee to open the Branch daily were:- (1) the number of transactions, (2) the population in the Hay Mills and South Yardley districts, and (3) the fact that the question of Mr Kesterton's services being retained was then before the Committee.

 

The Committee were justified in their action from the information then available. To have an average of 60 to 64 transactions in 1 hours indicated business could be done.

 

During the period the Branch has been a daily Branch it cannot be said that the anticipations of the Committee have been realised. It is true there are now more openings to spread the work over, but the average weekly transactions have fallen from 183 to 164, and the average new accounts opened weekly from 21 to 11. These two items are generally a good index of progress or otherwise. The average amount deposited has increased slightly from 269 to 288 per week, while the repayments have also increased from 104 to 134.

 

In looking for reasons it is difficult to find an altogether satisfactory explanation. It will be appreciated that the period selected to turn the Branch into a daily Branch corresponded with the beginning of a serious dislocation of industry, and to some extent this has affected the results. One cannot, however, rely upon that explanation as the only one, because it is found that periods of serious industrial disturbances generally result in extra demands on Savings Banks, and the fact that other districts do not show such a poor result cannot be overlooked. The [General] Manager has invited Mr Kesterton to prepare a report on the matter from his observations and experience, and attached herewith is a copy of such report.

 

The [General] Manager has also consulted Whitehouse, the youth who assisted Mr Kesterton at first, and who has been in charge since the Exhibition opened. There appears to be an agreed opinion that the district is a poor one; but this, in itself, is no criterion of business in Savings Banks. At Manchester, for instance, the best results are obtained in the poorest districts, and doubtless Liverpool and Glasgow would confirm.

 

The [General] Manager would prefer to regard as contributory reasons the following:-

 

1st.     That the district has been seriously affected by conditions of employment.

2nd.    That the position of the office may not be most suitable.

3rd.    That while opening the Branch as a daily Branch has attracted a class of depositor who would not be attracted by evening hours

            of business, the business done in this way has not equalled the loss by the falling away of smaller depositors.

4th.    That a good many of the small accounts opened by Mr Teale were "in and out" cases, which are of little value to the Bank.

 

As to the manner in which Mr Kesterton has discharged his duties, the [General] Manager reports that he has kept the cash book correctly and accounted for the money received.

 

During the whole period he has had the assistance of a reliable youth. The first youth, named Whitehouse, remained with him until December 24th, when it became necessary to place Whitehouse in charge of another Branch owing to illness of one of the staff. On Mr Kesterton taking up work at the Exhibition, Whitehouse remained at Hay Mills in charge, and has carried through and proved the Balance at March in an efficient manner. While the work has been carried on satisfactorily, and the books and returns kept correctly, it should not be taken for granted that Mr Kesterton would be able to discharge the duties of a Clerk-in-Charge of a Daily Branch on his own responsibility. He is interested in the work of the Bank and has done his best to improve his knowledge during the past six months.

 

J P Hilton

May 13th 1921.

 

 

 

New

Accounts

Transactions

Deposits

. s. d.

Repayments

. s. d.

1919

September

 

121

 

433

 

980. 17. 10.

 

120.  6.  6.

October

150

742

898. 18.  9.

199. 4.  6.

November

70

813

940.   3.  4.

175.  6.  3.

December

34

529

717. 10.  4.

726. 16. 11.

1920

January

 

191

 

1,096

 

1,906. 17.  3.

 

225.  4. 11.

February

93

1,025

1,516. 10.  9.

284. 11.  7.

March

95

1,182

1,282.   5.  7.

390. 16.  3.

April

48

712

1,769. 16.  6.

586.  7.  9.

May

31

752

774.  6. 11.

388. 15. 8.

To June 12th

15

239

243.  2. 10.

180. 11.11.

Total

848

7,523

11,030. 10.  1.

4,276.  2.  3.

Average per week

21

183

269. 0. 9.

104.   5. 11.

Average per opening

7

64

94. 5. 6.

36. 10. 11.

From June 14th

22

377

393. 19.  5.

212. 12. 10.

July

53

800

681.  3. 10.

1,222.   5. 5.

August

67

585

989.   2.  8.

415. 13.  5.

September

61

827

1,131.  6.  2.

383.  4. 11.

To October 23rd

45

742

1,101.  2.  6.

265.   2.  0.

Total

248

3,331

4,296. 14.  7

2,498.  18. 7.

Average per week

13

175

226. 2. 10.

131. 10. 5.

Average per opening

4

60

76. 14.  7

44. 12. 6.

From October 25th

18

207

372. 0. 4.

52. 1. 7.

November

51

758

1,201. 7. 4.

380. 19.3.

December

19

507

777. 17.10.

636. 7. 6.

1921

January

 

65

 

770

 

1,300. 4. 10

 

466. 17. 1.

February

41

717

978. 19. 6.

684. 6. 1.

To March 14th

26

331

1,134. 4. 5.

463. 2. 8.

 

220

3,290

5,764. 14. 3.

2,683. 14. 2

Average per week

11

164

288. 4. 9.

134. 3. 8.

Average per opening

2

28

48. 17.1.

22. 14. 10.

 
 

Report By J Kesterton - Branch Manager, Hay Mills - dated May 4th 1921

 

To: J P Hilton, Esq., [General] Manager, Birmingham Municipal Bank.

 

In accordance with your request, I beg to submit my report and observations on the progress and prospects of the above Branch.

 

As you are aware the Branch was open three nights a week until October 22nd, 1920, when it was opened as a day Branch. At that time there was standing to the credit of depositors the sum of 13,184. 16. 8.; on April 30th 1921, the balance stands at 17,907. 6. 0., an increase in the six months of 4,722. 9. 4. In the same period 300 new accounts have been opened and 144 have been closed.

 

There is, however, no comparison in the nature of the accounts opened and those closed. There were a large number of the earlier accounts which ranged from a few coppers to a few shillings, which, in the period of bad trade commencing in November, have naturally been closed.

 

It is very unfortunate that almost the entire period under review is synonymous with bad trade and unemployment to an extent which has been rarely experienced. There are certain districts more affected by unemployment than others. From my extensive knowledge of all districts of the City, I consider Hay Mills is invariably one of the first to feel the effects of such general unemployment as has been witnessed during the past five months. A considerable part of Hay Mills is poor, but the Branch is within easy reach of Yardley which contains a better class of working people, which is the class on which the Birmingham Municipal Bank thrives. The south end of Small Heath is also within easy reach of the Branch premises, and many good depositors are resident therein, Small Heath being nearly two miles distant. Having regard to these circumstances, I consider the location of the Branch is as convenient as possible, except that it should be on the opposite side of the road, which is the business side.

 

As before indicated, notwithstanding extensive unemployment, which has placed the Bank out of the service of the poorer people, nearly 5,000 has been added to the balance in six months, the class of account has improved, and many of those becoming depositors would not have done so had it remained a night Branch. Of course, it will be some time before the Branch is self-supporting, and you would probably like my opinion as to what are its prospects.

 

There is no immediate sign of extensive housing additions, although one side of Monica Road has been filled with new houses during the last six months and a few have been built at Yardley, but sooner or later there is bound to be a movement in this direction, as Small Heath to the Bridge, is well built up, while on the east side of Hay Mills and at Yardley, there are very desirable building sites, which must inevitably be used to meet present and future requirements.

 

As I have remarked, we are gradually securing a larger and larger proportion of the better-off Yardley and Small Heath residents and in times of better trade, we shall no doubt do more business in Hay Mills itself.

 

As to continuing the Branch as a day Branch or otherwise, I think it would be more in the interests of the Bank, as a whole, to continue as a day Branch. The Bank is a thriving institution and fortunately does not necessarily demand each Branch (for the moment) paying for itself. Each daily Branch, with its conveniences and ready service to depositors, its glaring message and advertisement for every other Branch as well as for Head Office.

 

I am of opinion that a limitation of the days and hours of the Branch would cause disappointment and discontent, and that the best interests of the Bank would be served by continuing as a day Branch. I have no doubt the Branch will pay in time, and I should unhesitatingly recommend its continuance. In the event of the present growth failing to continue, the matter could be reconsidered at any time.

 

I am, Sir,

 

Yours faithfully,

 

J Kesterton.
 
 

SUPPLEMENTAL REPORT ON HAY MILLS BRANCH.

________________________

 

The [General] Manager submits further comments on this Branch. The transactions, which are the only valuable test one can apply to a Savings Bank, indicate that the amount of business on certain days of the week does not justify the Branch being open. During the period the Branch has been opened as a Daily Branch the following are the highest, lowest, and average transactions on each day of the week, viz:-

 

 

Mon.

Tu.

Wed.

Thur.

Fri.

Sat.

Highest

88

23

29

18

21

90

Lowest

33

5

6

1

3

44

Average

52

12

14

8

9

60

 

In face of these figures, and in view of the heavy loss involved in working expenses, and the small progress which has been made, the [General] Manager cannot recommend its continuance on present lines.

 

The reasons advanced for its being continued as at present, viz, the fact that a certain class of depositor will not patronise an evening branch, are not very weighty, as there are no serious numbers involved; but it might be well to meet this objection somewhat.

 

The [General] Manager therefore advises the Committee to conduct business at Hay Mills Branch as follows:-

Tuesdays       10 to 2:30

Saturdays     5:30 to 7:30

Mondays        5:30 to 7:30

and to work the Branch from Head Office.

 

The question of obtaining more suitable premises nearer to South Yardley, should also be considered. The weight of local opinion appears to be on the side of fixing the Branch at the tram terminus.

 

June 10th, 1921.

 

After considering the above reports, the Committee:

 

469 RESOLVED:- That it be a recommendation to the General Committee that the Hay Mills Branch be opened in future on Tuesdays from 10am to 2:30pm and on Saturdays and Mondays from 5:30pm to 7:30pm only, instead of the present hours of business; and that the question of the employment of Mr Kesterton be referred to the Chairman of the Committee (Mr Councillor Appleby) and the Chairman of your Sub-Committee (Mr Alderman Lovesey) for consideration and report.

 

470 RESOLVED:- That the question of altering the situation of the Hay Mills Branch be considered at a later meeting.

 

The question of Mr Kesterton's future was considered on July 18th 1921, when it was noted that he was appointed in August 1919 "at 250 per annum, as a temporary appointment of Organiser. This was anticipated to last for 4 months, but his services have been retained for one purpose or another. Subsequently, when the Bank Staff were placed under the Civil Service Bonus Scheme, Mr Kesterton  received the benefit of such scheme also.  His basic salary was brought down with all others by 78 per annum, leaving it at 172."

 

Total bonuses of 212 increased Mr Kesterton's salary to 384, but with part of the bonus based on the cost of living, it was anticipated that his salary would fall by 45. The Committee stated that they had "had to take over five Clerks from the Water Department, three of whom have over 20 years' service and positions of a suitable character have had to be found for them. The only post which can be offered to Mr Kesterton is to assist Mr Rees at Balsall Heath Branch. Rees has had 28 years' service of a responsible character and should be able to train Mr Kesterton up."

 

Although the Committee's members were anxious to help Mr Kesterton by finding him a position within the Bank's structure, they were hampered by his lack of suitable knowledge and experience. As a consequence of the Bank's recent agreement with the Water Department for water accounts to be paid over branch counters, a number of such experienced officers had transferred to the Bank. The Committee therefore felt unable to give him an appointment as a Branch Manager, but placed him with Mr Rees at Balsall Heath branch at a salary of 120 per annum, plus bonuses of 172.

 

The youth who performed satisfactorily at Hay Mills was Frank Whitehouse, who had also worked with Mr Kesterton at Acocks Green on its first day of business - an experience recollected by Frank Whitehouse fifty years later. Mr Kesterton's work at a Bingley Hall exhibition in May 1921 was the subject of correspondence between him and the General Manager.

 

The bridge referred to in Mr Kesterton's report spans the River Cole between Small Heath and Hay Mills; it was opened in 1914 replacing an earlier toll bridge.

 

The hours of business at Hay Mills branch were amended to a total of 8 (Monday and Saturday evenings: 5:30pm to 7:30pm; and Tuesdays 10am to 2:30pm) from August 8th 1921, but the branch failed to progress in an acceptable manner until it was located to permanent premises at 1176 Coventry Road in 1925. Deposit balances improved from 21,590 (March 31st 1922) to 62,010 at March 31st 1926.

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