Handsworth Branch - Architect and Builder
Handsworth branch had two distinctions as an office of the Birmingham Municipal Bank. When the permanent branch was opened on May
17th 1924, the building became the first ever purpose built Municipal Bank. Fifty years later, the branch was second only to Head
Office's Administration Department to be taken on to the On Line Real Time computer system, thus Handsworth depositors were the first
to experience the advantages of this state-of-the-art system.
The building contractor who erected the Bank's premises at
162, Soho Road, was T Elvins & Sons, who were the Bank's second choice as contractor when W E Flavell of South Yardley withdrew
their tender. The firm was established in 1865 by Thomas Elvins, who commenced business in Hockley Hill, Birmingham. In 1876 the business
was removed to new and larger premises in Naden Road, Soho Hill, expressly built by the founder to accommodate his steadily-increasing
trade. The premises comprised offices; joiners' shop; timber sheds; stabling; and a storage yard; etc. But, with succeeding years
it proved too small for the constantly increasing business, and at various times additional land was acquired in Naden Road and Soho
Hill. By 1926, the offices and joiners' shops and the large timber sheds were still in Naden Road, whilst additional land to accommodate
a stoneworking plant; smithy; garages; mortar mill; plant and stores, had been acquired - that land extending from Naden Road to Soho
Hill, with entrances from both. In 1908, the founders' three sons were taken into partnership and shortly afterwards, Thomas Elvins
In 1926, the firm produced a book entitled Examples of Modern Buildings. This book featured Handsworth branch as well
as including the short history of the business reproduced above. Beneath a photograph of the newly constructed branch, a description
of the building was provided.
Mr Gerald McMichael, ARIBA, who has designed several of the Branch Premises for the Birmingham Municipal Bank, was the Architect for
this building, which includes a let-off service flat above the Bank premises.
The front elevation is faced with White Hollington
stone and King's Norton sandstock facing bricks.
The City Coat-of-Arms over the main entrance was carved by W H Wilkinson, and
is picked out in colours to give the required relief.
The front roof is covered with Buttermere green slates, and the back roofs
with thick Bangor blue slates.
The ground floor doors and windows, and the whole of the joinery to Banking Hall, are of polished
Gerald McMichael did extensive work as an Architect for the Bank
in its early years. Mr McMichael qualified ARIBA on December 5th
1898, and retired in 1937, working from 105, Colmore Row, Birmingham from 1914. His designs were used for a number of properties
were converted for branch use, commencing with 163, Stratford Road, Sparkbrook. Other work by Gerald McMichael included buildings
in the grounds of Great Barr Hall, which in 1918, began to be used for the accommodation of “mental defectives”. A horseshoe
of houses for females at the south of the Hall was completed by 1930, and a row of houses for males at the north of the Hall by 1937. Gerald
McMichael was responsible for most of the scheme.