Branches Outside the City
How Oldbury Urban District Council became the first area
outside the City of Birmingham to have a branch of the Bank.

Early in the Bank's history, the restriction imposed by the enabling legislation that the BMB could not lend on property outside the city boundary, was the cause of much disappointment to residents in adjoining areas. This was particularly so for depositors at Bearwood branch (many of who resided in Smethwick) and at Quinton branch, where many depositors lived in Oldbury, Halesowen, and Blackheath. The situation in Quinton was equally frustrating for the Bank where much of the housing development was close to the branch, but outside the city boundary. The only solution to this situation would be a change to the 1919 legislation.


At a Special Meeting of the Bank Committee held on July 7th 1924, the Chairman stated that the meeting had been called to consider certain amendments to new regulations that the Bank wished to have implemented, and to consider the question of the Bank obtaining further powers. The Town Clerk was present at the meeting and stated that extra powers might be obtained by a Bill being promoted by the Corporation in the ensuing session of Parliament.


After considering the comments of the Town Clerk, the Committee asked him to prepare draft clauses for submission to the next meeting of the Committee. One of these clauses was to obtain:

Power to enable the establishment of Branch Banks for Savings purposes only in the area of adjacent local Authorities, at the request or with the consent of such Authorities.


The Committee then resolved that the "General Manager be directed to ascertain the views of the adjacent Local Authorities on the question of obtaining powers to establish branches for Savings purposes, in areas outside the City, with the consent of the Local Authorities concerned."


However, the Town Clerk reported in October 1924 that the question of obtaining further powers by promoting a Bill in Parliament had been considered by the City's General Purposes Committee who had decided not to proceed with the matter. In the meantime, the General Manager had informally communicated with the Treasurer of certain local authorities, with a view to ascertaining their attitude regarding the establishment of BMB branches in areas outside the city. Replies in favour were received from West Bromwich, Smethwick and Perry Barr (the latter then being outside the city), but Sutton Coldfield did not consider that the establishment of a branch would have any attractions for the town's residents. No reply was received from Wednesbury.


The next opportunity for the Bank to obtain the power to establish branches outside the city arose in 1925 when the Bank's General Purposes Sub-Committee produced the following report, dated June 15th 1925:


Proposed Clause for inclusion in Parliamentary Bill.


The Town Clerk has asked to be informed by the first week in July whether the Bank desire, in the event of a Parliamentary Bill being promoted in the next Session of Parliament, to include Clauses for further powers.


In this connection your Sub-Committee are informed that the question as to the possibility of savings facilities being afforded by the Bank in the Borough of Smethwick has been raised recently at a meeting of the Council of that Borough, and arrangements have been made for a meeting to take place between the General Manager and the Town Clerk and Borough Treasurer of Smethwick to discuss the question. In the event of any proposal arising out of such meeting, it has been suggested that representatives of your Committee and the Borough of Smethwick should meet to go further into the matter.


In view of the above action, and the steps privately taken by the Mayor of Smethwick in this matter, your Sub-Committee feel that should official representations be made by the Borough of Smethwick in favour of the Bank seeking powers to afford savings facilities in that Borough, the Town Clerk should be informed that the Bank may desire a draft Clause included in the projected Bill to enable the establishment of Branch Banks in the area of adjacent local Authorities at the request or with the consent of such Authorities.


As described by the General Manager in his 1927 history of the Bank, Smethwick was one of a number of local authorities that were keen to establish Municipal Banks. These other towns and cities wished to see their residents benefitting from two factors that applied in Birmingham: a better rate of interest on deposits than that obtainable elsewhere, and those deposits being placed with the local authority at an attractive rate. The Government opposed all attempts to establish more Municipal Banks, but Smethwick endeavoured to circumvent this opposition by making a special arrangement with Birmingham.


This arrangement followed two meetings held by representatives of the BMB with representatives of both Smethwick and West Bromwich. The first meeting was held on June 22nd 1924 at the Smethwick Council House, and was attended by the following: 


The Mayor (Alderman Betts)


Alderman Willietts


The Town Clerk

Representing Smethwick

The Borough Treasurer


Alderman Bache


The Town Clerk


The Borough Treasurer

    West Bromwich

Councillor Appleby


The Town Clerk


The Treasurer

    The Bank

The General Manager



The representatives of the two Boroughs expressed a desire to have branches of the Bank in their area, but it was explained that under the Birmingham Corporation Act 1919, the Bank could not operate to its full extent outside the City area. However, Birmingham's Town Clerk ruled that the Bank possessed sufficient authority to open branches in other areas and could transact Savings Bank business but not House Purchase business. He further stated that it could be argued that such an extension into other areas was against the spirit of the Act, and the Treasury might (without consulting the Corporation) limit the Bank's activities to the City only by prescribing the Regulations accordingly.  The alternative would be for Birmingham to apply for Parliamentary power to meet the position, in which case Smethwick and West Bromwich would have to be prepared to support such application. The representatives of the two Boroughs stated that they were willing to do so.


It was agreed that the Bank should prepare a suitable scheme and the following attended a meeting in the City Treasurer's office on June 24th 1925 to consider a document prepared by Councillor Appleby:


The Borough Treasurer of Smethwick

A representative on behalf of the Town Clerk of Smethwick

The Town Clerk of West Bromwich

The Borough Treasurer of West Bromwich

Councillor Appleby

The Deputy Town Clerk of Birmingham

The Treasurer of the Bank

The General Manager of the Bank

After consideration of the document, the meeting decided to submit it to the respective authorities, and if adopted to proceed by way of inserting an appropriate clause in the next Parliamentary Bill promoted by Birmingham City Council.


Both Boroughs submitted their views in August:


                                                                                               Town Hall,

                                                                                                    West Bromwich

 TC/Y                                                                            6th August, 1925



F.H.C. Wiltshire, Esq.,

Town Clerk,

Council House,



Dear Sir,



This matter has now been before the Finance Committee who have approved it in principle by arrangement with Smethwick.


Enclosed herewith is draft scheme for the establishment of a branch Bank. No doubt you will arrange for a conference in due course.


I shall be away until practically the end of the month.


                                                                       Yours faithfully,


                                                                     (Sd.) Alfred Wickham,


                                                                                      Town Clerk.



                                                                                               Council House,


                                                                                              7th August, 1925


The Town Clerk,



Dear Sir,

Municipal Savings Banks


With reference to the Conference held at the City Treasurer's Office, Birmingham, on the 24th June last, regarding the establishment of Branch Banks in Smethwick, West Bromwich and neighbouring areas, the West Bromwich and Smethwick Authorities have since considered the Scheme which was then submitted by the Birmingham Corporation for their consideration, and I now send you herewith such Scheme as amended by the West Bromwich and Smethwick Authorities.


With reference to paragraph 7 of the Scheme, before finally agreeing to the provisions contained in such paragraph, my Committee would be glad if the expense or loss referred to, and which may fall to be borne by this Authority, could be more particularly defined.


I presume that a further Conference between the three Authorities will be necessary, and I shall be glad to know when and where you propose such Conference should be held.


                                                                      Yours faithfully,


                                                                     (Sd.) Frank Chapman,


                                                                                      Town Clerk.


Continued ....
Councillor Appleby's document