In the Bank's first five Annual Reports (1920 to 1924) the Head Office address is stated simply as: The Council House, Edmund Street,
Birmingham. This address related to four different arrangements made with the City's Water Department since the Bank's predecessor
(the Birmingham Corporation Savings Bank) commenced in September 1916. The accommodation provided in this way gradually increased
from a five-yard-long counter in a small portion of a semi-basement to a large part of the Water Department's general office, as described
in the July 31st 1925 edition of The Municipal Journal:
.... in September, 1916, the Birmingham Corporation Savings Bank (as it was
then designated) became a tenant of the Water Department, and was allotted a small space in a portion of the Waste Water Office. The
line of demarcation between "savings" on the one hand, and "waste" on the other, was indicated by a partition which divided the single
counter into two parts. As it was soon found impossible to carry on without further room, the Water Department made arrangements to
transfer their Waste Water Department elsewhere, and place the whole of the office at the disposal of the bank.
Thus the bank continued
until it became a permanent part of the civic life by the Corporation Act of 1919, under its present title of the Birmingham Municipal
Bank. At this stage the calls on counter accommodation were so great that a further move had to be made, and a portion of the revenue
counter in the large general office of the Water Department was set apart for the bank. Progress was so rapid that a further re-arrangement
of offices and rooms soon became necessary. The large revenue office of the Water Department was divided into two parts, one being
retained by the Water Department, and the other allocated to the bank, with other rooms for the administration work.
growth of the new Bank from September 1919
soon required that other premises be sought for the Head Office
functions. The Corporation
purchased offices at 6 and 8 Edmund Street, formerly in the occupation of a condensed milk company, and after suitable reconstruction
and enlargement, these premises became the Bank's first own self-contained Head Offices. The City Surveyor, H H Humphries, MICE, superintended
the alterations, which were carried out to his designs by Maddock & Walford Ltd of Birmingham.
The new premises provided
storage accommodation in the basement, and a large banking hall on the ground floor where the whole of the woodwork was in oak with
the exception of the counter top, which was made of Honduras mahogany. An enquiry office, a new accounts office, and a chief clerk's
office were also provided at this level. On the first floor, separate offices were allocated to the General Manager, Assistant
General Manager, accountancy department, secretarial staff, typists, and a large office was devoted to the house purchase department.
the second floor, quarters were provided for the building's caretakers which consisted of a bedroom, sitting room, kitchen, scullery,
and bathroom. A staff mess room, kitchen and store room were also on this level.
(Note: In J P Hilton's book Britain's First Municipal
Savings Bank, the description of this move to 6 and 8 Edmund Street, refers to 'Head Offices' (ie in the plural) for the first time,
so as to emphasise that the premises included both a branch - Head Office branch - and the administrative offices. The same treatment
was applied in succeeding Annual Reports.)
A large gathering of members of the City Council and others assembled on July 6th 1925
, to witness the opening of the premises
by Neville Chamberlain, with the Lord Mayor (Alderman Percival Bower) presiding over
the ceremony. (Click here for details of speeches
.) The opening ceremony was followed by a lunch at the Council House, the attendees
including the chairman of the Bank Committee (Councillor C T Appleby, JP), the Lord Mayor and the Lady Mayoress, Mr and Mrs Neville
Chamberlain, Mrs Appleby, Alderman J B Burman, MP, and Mrs Burman, Alderman Sir David and Mrs Brooks, Alderman Sir William and Lady
Bowater, Alderman T O Williams (Deputy Lord Mayor) and Miss Williams, Sir David and Lady Davis, and other members of the Bank Committee
and the General Purposes Committee of the City Council.
The volume of business at Head Office continued to grow, with the number
of accounts increasing from 17,381 (43% of the network's total) at March 31st 1920 to 36,009 (16% of the network's total) at March
31st 1927. Average transactions per week, for the same dates, were 1,633 and 3,084.
With this volume of accounts, and the growth
in administrative tasks that arose from an expanding branch network, the question of the adequacy of the accommodation soon became
an issue again. Britain's First Municipal Savings Bank (published 1927) stated that:
The accommodation question has become a serious
matter, and is engaging the attention of the committee. It is not easy to find adequate premises, centrally situated, which can be
made suitable for the Head Offices of the Bank, but the existing conditions call for action, as the depositors know only too well.
the time that the premises in Edmund Street were acquired, it was anticipated that adjoining property would become available at a
later date that would accommodate the Bank's forecast growth. However, when the time came to consider such an extension, negotiations
to purchase the adjoining property proved abortive (see Newspaper Report
). More space was created at 6 and 8 Edmund Street when the
House Purchase Department was separated into 44 Easy Row. But the inability to expand in Edmund Street meant that the Bank had to
look elsewhere for a solution to its accommodation problem. The 1930
Annual Report stated that:
A site in Broad Street has been placed
at the disposal of the Bank, and plans are being prepared for the erection of Head Offices suitable to the needs of the Bank.
foundation stone for the new Head Office in Broad Street was laid on October 22nd 1932, and the premises opened
on November 27th 1933.
The business of the Head Office Branch moved from Edmund Street to Broad Street, the following day.