Head Office
Head Office - Safe Deposit Department
Following the 1933 opening of the Bank's new Head Office in Broad Street, by HRH The Prince George, a Safe Deposit facility became available for both the BMB's customers and others. The Bank's 1934 Annual Report stated:
The introduction of a Safe Deposit at the new Head Offices of the Bank is a special feature and should prove a boon to depositors and others who have no satisfactory accommodation in their homes for the safe keeping of deeds, documents and private papers. The equipment of the Safe Deposit was entrusted to Messrs Chubb and Son's Lock and Safe Company, Limited, of Wolverhampton, whose reputation in such work is renowned. The most up-to-date system has been introduced, with the result that the Safe Deposit is the finest of its character in the provinces. A cordial invitation is extended to depositors and others to take advantage of the facilities now provided. Safes can be rented at moderate rentals varying from 5s to 1 per annum, according to size.
The Safe Deposit facility was located securely below ground level, in the basement of the building, and measured fifty feet square. Details of the facility are given in The Operation of the Safe Deposit and its degree of use is illustrated by Safe Deposit Statistics. The facility was managed by a Safe Deposit Custodian - a copy of the 1976 Job Description is reproduced below, as is an advertisement featuring a 'thief' stealing jewellery.
Photographs of the Safe Deposit show the following aspects of the installation:

Entrance Corridor

Entrance Door

General Views of interior (original layout)

Southwest corner of interior (original layout) - with renters

Comparison of original layout and 1947 additions

A Reference Room - available for renters to inspect the contents of their safe

The Safe Deposit in 1969

The closed Safe Deposit in 2009

The closed Safe Deposit in 2012/2013

The original 1933 layout provided 4,640 individual safes on the four walls. The Bank's 1935 Annual Report stated that .... Over 1,000 safes have been taken at the very low rentals fixed, but there are more available. We therefore invite all those interested to call and inspect the Safe Deposit and take advantage of the exceptional facilities offered.
These 4,640 safes were of four different sizes (designated A, B, C, D) that were split as follows:









The number of safes rented gradually grew over the next few years until the commencement of the Second World War provided a boost in demand that saw all the safes taken up. This position was reflected in the following paragraph in the Bank's 1945 Annual Report:
One of the most gratifying services the Bank has rendered is the provision of Safe Deposit facilities at the Head Office. With the advent of war the advantages of this provision were recognised, and all the accommodation, consisting of 4,640 safes, was quickly taken up. We have, probably, the most up-to-date Safe Deposit in the country. For a small annual charge depositors can rent a safe in which to keep their deeds, documents, etc., with the knowledge that they alone (or their properly accredited representatives) can gain access to the safe. Freedom from anxiety, ever present when such documents are kept in the house, is a great relief. We have a long waiting list of applicants for safes, and it is our intention to enlarge the accommodation as early as circumstances permit.
The end of the War, and the corresponding relaxation of building restrictions, were the circumstances that enabled the Bank to place a contract in 1946 to extend the safe deposit installation. An additional 5,888 safes were installed in 1947 (at a cost of 16,780) in eight blocks located across the floor of the Safe Deposit. Although the original configuration of 4,640 safes had contained four different sizes, the extra 5,888 only provided three of these sizes: A, B and D. Each of the eight new blocks contained 736 safes, with 368 on each side of the block. The 5,888 safes were split:







The final configuration was therefore:











The sizes of the four categories of safe, and the amount of rental charged, is detailed at Safe Dimensions and Rental Charges.
In addition to the Safe Deposit service, a limited Safe Custody facility was also provided.
A note of the general conditions relating to the rental of a safe were compiled by the Bank in August 1964 - see below.




Duties and Responsibilities:


All duties in connection with the operation of the Safe Deposit including:


(1)  The security of the Safe Deposit and the supervision of the security of all contents on inspection by Solicitors and Personal Representatives.


(2)  Supervision of the duties of other non-manual staff and attendants.


(3) Completion of Agreements when a safe is rented and supervision of the maintenance of the necessary ancillary records.


(4) Collection of rents and fees and maintenance of a record for each safe.


(5)  Dealing with correspondence and enquiries on all matters in connection with safes and their contents.


(6)  The use of his/her professional skills in advising customers in matters connected with other services of the Bank and generally, with their savings and investments.




Qualifications/Experience required:


Should preferably hold a recognised banking qualification and have considerable experience in banking practice.



April 1976