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When the BMB commenced business on September 1st 1919, it did so with its Head Office located in temporary accommodation in the City Council’s Water Department in Edmund Street, and with a network of eighteen branches, all in temporary locations. The necessity of utilising temporary accommodation stemmed from the lack of time to find permanent premises (a special meeting of the Bank’s Committee to discuss the Bank’s options was held as late as June 23rd 1919) and the more relevant fact that the Bank commenced operations without any working capital and therefore had no funds to purchase or lease property. When premises were found that were deemed to be suitable for conversion as permanent branches, the City Council initially purchased these in the name of the Housing & Estates Committee until the Bank was able to defray the cost from the profits generated by its operations.

 

The Bank’s decision to operate with a network of branches resulted (a) from the experience of the Birmingham Corporation Savings Bank, which utilised factories and other places of employment as branches, (b) the practicality of providing a service to a large population (almost 1 million) that the Council was planning to disperse over an enlarged city, and (c) the knowledge gained from a visit to the Manchester & Salford Savings Bank.

 

The temporary premises initially utilised included rooms at Institutes and Council properties, the front rooms of houses, the former premises of a butcher and a public house, the ticket office at a public baths, and a fireman's hut. When property was subsequently purchased, the typical premises obtained were shops with dwelling accommodation behind - as that accommodation usually had a tenant with occupation rights provided by the Rent Restrictions Act, the Bank was restricted to creating a branch in the confined space of a small shop.

 Branch
 Temporary
Address(es)
 Date
Opened
Permanent
Address 
 Date
Opened
 Architect(s)
Builder(s)
 Sparkbrook  163  Stratford Road  1/9/1919  161 Stratford Road  25/7/1921  Gerald McMichael  F J Briley
 Kings Heath  Kings Heath & Moseley Institute  1/9/1919  73 High Street  24/4/1922
 Gerald McMichael
 City Surveyor
 Baker & Son
 G Mobbs
 Balsall Heath  148 Mary Street  1/9/1919  526 Moseley Road  4/9/1922  Gerald McMichael
 Baker & Son
 Richard Fenwick Ltd
 (1) Green Lane Baths
 (2) 417 Coventry Road
 1/9/1919
 8/10/1919
 479 Coventry Road  25/9/1922  Gerald McMichael  F J Briley
 Selly Oak  Selly Oak Institute  1/91/1919  523 Bristol Road  10/2/1923
 (unknown *)
 F J Briley
 Aston  Council House, Albert Road  1/9/1919  22 High Street  17/2/1923
 (unknown *)
 S Surman & Son
 Duddeston  117 Great Lister Street  1/9/1919  117 Great Lister Street  17/3/1923  Gerald McMichael  S Surman & Son
 Aston Cross  1 Park Road  1/11/1920  99 Aston Road North  28/4/1923
 (unknown *)
 F J Briley
 Rotton Park
 (1) 368 Dudley Road
 (2) 157 Dudley Road
 (3) 7 Heath Street
 1/9/1919
 9/7/1920
 28/12/1922
 157 Dudley Road   16/61923  Gerald McMichael  W Sapcote & Sons
 Stirchley
 (1) 299 High Street
 (2) Stirchley Council School
 (3) 1516 Pershore Road
 (4) 1471 Pershore Road
 5/12/1919
 5/11/1920
       ?
       ?
 1507 Pershore Road  29/10/1923
 City Surveyor
(Mr H H Humphries)
 Public Works Dept
 
* Although the Architect for these branch reconstructions is not known, it is likely to have been Gerald McMichael, ARIBA.
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Extracts from the Minutes of the Bank’s Management Committees detail the processes followed to establish the temporary premises and the subsequent search for permanent facilities. The Minutes also illustrate the protocols it was necessary for the Bank to follow to obtain the City Council’s sanction to the relevant expenditure, etc., as required by the Bank’s Rule 10 which stated that “The Committee of Management may from time to time open and maintain Branch Offices for transacting the business of the Bank elsewhere than at the Head Office, and for that purpose may acquire the tenancy of any premises, or, with the consent of the Council of the City of Birmingham, may purchase or erect any premises.”

 

The tasks of finding and then administrating the acquisition of properties were greatly assisted by the Bank’s valuer: Frank Wilde.

 

The Bank experienced many problems in relation to finding premises in its early years; these included a lack of suitable properties and the difficulty of obtaining vacant possession. Other problems included the provision of lighting and heating to the branch premises - electricity was rare, unreliable and expensive; and the Bank attempted to install innovative central heating systems. These problems are detailed in the Minutes reproduced for each branch.

 

Minutes covering topics that relate to the  whole of the branch network are reproduced separately.

 

(NOTE: Until October 1922, the Bank's General Manager (J P Hilton) held the title of 'Manager', and Branch Managers were known as 'Branch Superintendents'.)