Premises - Smethwick
The following Minutes have been extracted from the records
of the Bank's General Committee and its Sub-Committees.
The Minutes cover the period from January 1920 to October 1939.
In 1925, Smethwick was one of 19 town councils who made representations to the Government to establish a Municipal Bank - all of which failed. Around the same time, Smethwick Council attempted to achieve the benefits of borrowing money cheaply from their ratepayers by having a branch of the BMB opened in the borough - as detailed in Branches Outside the City. Extensive discussions were held between Birmingham and Smethwick (that also included West Bromwich) and a complicated scheme was drawn up by the Bank's Chairman, Councillor Appleby. Such a scheme could only go ahead if Parliament allowed Birmingham to open branches outside the city - this power was not granted until 1929, by which time Smethwick's interest had waned. It was not until 1938 that the question of a branch in Smethwick was pursued - a permanent branch was opened on October 23rd 1940, following less than a year in temporary premises at 130 High Street.

Finance & General Purposes Sub-Committee: January 30th 1920


The following Report of the Manager was received:




Private enquiries have been made with regard to the co-operation of Smethwick in connection with the Housing Department of the Bank. Difficulties are being experienced with regard to the Branch at Bearwood, the depositors contending that inasmuch as the Bank exists for the depositors in the Bank to take advantage of the House Purchase section as well as the Savings Bank section. Up to the present nothing official has been heard from the Smethwick Town Council upon the matter.


Bank Committee: October 20th 1924


1862   On Minute No 1805 the General Manager reported that he had informally communicated with the Chairman or Treasurer of certain local authorities, with a view to ascertaining their attitude as to the suggestion to obtain power for the establishment of Branches for Savings purposes in areas outside the city. He informed the Committee that he had received replies in favour of the project from West Bromwich, Smethwick and Perry Barr. The Mayor of Sutton Coldfield had intimated that he did not consider the establishment of a Bank would have any attraction for the residents at Sutton. No reply had been received from the Borough Treasurer of Wednesbury. The Minute was continued.


General Purposes Sub-Committee: June 8th 1925


753 The following communication was received from the Finance Sub-Committee with reference to the required extension of the Bearwood Branch and the raising of the question at the last meeting of the Smethwick Council of a Municipal Bank  being provided for Smethwick as a Branch of the Birmingham Municipal Bank:


On Minutes Nos 334 and 343 (Bearwood Branch - Overcrowding) the General Manager stated that Mr Councillor Daniels had intimated that there did not appear to be any premises available in the Bearwood district within the City which would be an improvement on the existing branch premises. In this connection the Chairman (Councillor Appleby) stated that the Mayor of Smethwick was very desirous that something should be done for affording saving facilities for the inhabitants of Smethwick, and as it did not appear likely that Smethwick would be able to obtain separate powers, he had suggested that a conference should be held with Birmingham Representatives with a view to ascertaining if any steps could be taken for Birmingham to obtain powers to open branches of the Municipal Bank in areas outside the City. The Sub-Committee were reminded that a similar desire had been expressed by public representatives of West Bromwich.


352. Resolved: That in view of the delegations to the Bank Sub-Committee, the above question be brought before the General Purposes Sub-Committee for consideration.


The General Manager stated that as the result of the question being raised arrangements had been made for an interview to take place between the Town Clerk and Borough Treasurer of Smethwick and himself to discuss the matter. Should any proposal result from this preliminary interview it was suggested that members of the Bank Committee should meet representatives of Smethwick to further discuss the subject.


Bank Committee: July 20th 1925


2125a The following report of the General Purposes Sub-Committee was received:


Proposal to establish Branches in areas of adjoining Authorities.


Your Sub-Committee submit with this report copy of a statement as to the proceedings at conference which have taken place between representatives of the Bank and the boroughs of Smethwick and West Bromwich, together with a memorandum of a suggested scheme for the establishment of branches of the Bank in the areas of the authorities mentioned.


The proposals indicated are at present receiving the consideration of Smethwick and West Bromwich, and in the event of either or both of these boroughs officially requesting the Bank to take steps to obtain powers for the purpose referred to, it is recommended that the General Purposes Committee be asked to include a clause in the next Parliamentary Bill.


2126   RESOLVED:- That in the event of the Bank being officially approached by the Borough of Smethwick and West Bromwich, or either of them, with a scheme satisfactory to the Bank Committee, for the establishment of Branches in areas outside the City, the General Purposes Committee be asked to include a Clause in the next Parliamentary Bill with a view to obtaining the necessary powers.


Report of the General Purposes Sub-Committee


On Minute No 753 (Interview with Smethwick representatives, re Savings facilities) the following statement was submitted with reference to the interview which had taken place between the representatives of the Bank and of the Boroughs of Smethwick and West Bromwich, together with the draft memorandum therein referred to.


Extension of Bank into areas of adjoining Authorities.


An informal conference was held at the Smethwick Council House on the 22nd June 1924 to discuss the question of setting up Branches of the Bank in the areas of adjoining Authorities. The representatives attending such conference were:


Representing Smethwick

The Mayor (Alderman Betts)

Alderman Willets

The Town Clerk

The Borough Treasurer

Alderman Bache


Representing West Bromwich

The Town Clerk

The Borough Treasurer


Representing the Bank

Councillor Appleby

The Town Clerk

The Treasurer

The General Manager


There appeared to be a genuine desire on the part of Smethwick and West Bromwich to have branches of the Bank in their areas.


Having regard to the clause in the Birmingham Corporation Act 1919, the Bank could not operate to its full extent outside the City area, but the Town Clerk ruled that the Bank possess sufficient authority to open Branches in other areas, and could transact Savings Bank business but not House Purchase business.


It could, however, be argued that such an extension into other areas was opposed to the spirit of the Act, and the Treasury might, without consulting the Corporation, limit the Bank's activities to the City area by prescribing the regulation in the matter.


The alternative would be for Birmingham to apply for Parliamentary powers to meet the position in which case the Authorities would have to be prepared to support such application. Smethwick and West Bromwich intimated their willingness to do so.


The question of working out a scheme for submission to the respective authorities was left to Councillor Appleby and the Officials.


A further meeting took place on the 24th of June in the City Treasurer's office, the following attending:


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.

The Deputy Town Clerk of Birmingham.

The Treasurer of the Bank.

The General Manager of the Bank.


Councillor Appleby submitted a scheme of which a copy is attached hereto.


After consideration of such scheme it was decided to submit the same to the respective authorities, and if adopted to proceed by way of inserting a clause in the next Parliamentary Bill promoted by Birmingham.


Scheme for the Establishment of Branch Banks in Smethwick, West Bromwich and neighbouring areas.


The Corporations of Smethwick, West Bromwich, and any other neighbouring Local Authorities to invite the Corporation of Birmingham to apply to Parliament for powers to establish branches of the Municipal Bank in their respective areas. The area branches to be opened by and carried on under the control of the Birmingham Municipal Bank Committee, the Corporation of the City to co-opt a representative of each area Authority on the Bank Committee.


The accounts at the Branch Banks in each area to be kept separately, and any deficiency arising through the income of the Bank being insufficient to meet the expenditure, or through loss on advances made to purchase houses, to be met by the Authority of the respective area. Any excess of income over expenditure to be placed to Reserve Funds out of which the moneys spent in acquiring and fitting Banks would be repaid.


The deposits received in each area to be dealt with as follows:


(a) 20% of the amount received on deposit in each area, until the accumulations amount to   to be kept in an account at the Joint Stock Bank as a floating balance to meet withdrawals, etc.


(b) Not more than 33.1/3% of the total sum standing to the credit of depositors in the respective areas to be advanced for the purpose of purchasing houses on the terms set out in the Regulations of the Birmingham Municipal Bank.


(c) Any excess of deposits, after providing for (a) and (b), to be invested in Government Securities paying, if possible, 5% until the income of the Banks in the respective areas is sufficient to cover the expenses.


(d) Any excess of deposits after providing for (a) (b) and (c), to be advanced "at call" to the Authority in the respective area at         per centum per annum. The Authority to invest one-half of this money in Government Securities so that they may be in a position to meet any "run" there might be on their Banks. The balance to be used at the discretion of the Authority.


The experience of the Birmingham Municipal Bank Committee is that a Daily Branch can be run on about 1,200 per annum, so that until a sum of 80,000 has been accumulated at a Branch and invested at 5%, there will be a deficiency each year. Except in districts with a population of, say 30,000, and a good Saturday night market, Evening Branches at a much less cost could be established.


The Birmingham Municipal Bank was opened on the 1st September 1919, and by the 31st March 1921 5 Branches had deposits exceeding 80,000; a year later this had been increased to 7; the following year to 12; in March 1924 the number was 16; and in March 1925, 20.


In the event of Parliamentary powers to establish a Municipal Bank being given to any of the Authorities in whose area the Birmingham Municipal Bank have opened a Branch or Branches, the Authority to be at liberty to take over the Branches established within its area, together with all assets and liabilities.


Should a Branch of the Birmingham Municipal Bank be opened in the neighbourhood of the existing Branch in Sandon Road, the business of the latter Branch to be transferred to the one in Smethwick, and any expense in connection with the transfer, or loss incurred by the Birmingham Corporation on the closing of the Sandon Road Branch, to be borne by the Smethwick Corporation.


768    RESOLVED:- That copies of the above statement and memorandum be circulated to the members of the Bank Committee, and that they be recommended to approve of the preliminary steps which have been taken, and in the event of the Bank being officially approached by the Boroughs of Smethwick and West Bromwich, or either of them, with a satisfactory scheme for establishment of Branches in areas outside the City, to ask the General Purposes Committee to include a clause in the next Parliamentary Bill, with a view to obtaining the necessary powers.

 [Also see Branches outside the City.]


Bank Committee: January 17th 1938


Branches outside the City.


As the result of enquiries made by members of the Smethwick Council and a letter from the Town Clerk of Smethwick, your Sub-Committee have authorised the General Manager to intimate to the latter that the Bank Committee would be prepared to consider, subject to the consent of the Smethwick Council, the establishment of a branch or branches in the Smethwick area on the same terms and conditions as apply to the other outside areas in which the Bank operate.


Bank Committee: October 17th 1938


6301  The following report of the Finance and General Purposes Sub-Committee was received:


Premises at Smethwick.


Enquiries have been continued with regard to suitable premises at Smethwick for branch requirements.


With regard to the delicenced premises known as "The Golden Cross", owned by the Smethwick Corporation, the conclusion has been reached, after consultation with Mr Surman, Architect, that the premises could not be satisfactorily adapted for Bank purposes without an unwarranted outlay, and that the price required by Smethwick for purchase of the premises with a view to demolition and the erection of a building to the prescribed building line, is more than can be justified.


Your Sub-Committee have therefore agreed that negotiations with regard to these premises should be abandoned.


An opportunity occurs of acquiring premises at 143 High Street, which could be economically adapted to Bank requirements. These freehold premises comprise a large shop, with basement, and first and second floors, with a frontage to High Street of 28'3" and an average depth of 48 yards, and are valued at 3,125. While the property is not in quite as good a position as the "Golden Cross" premises above referred to, it is nevertheless not far distant therefrom.


Your Sub-Committee have given authority for negotiations to take place with a view to the purchase of the property at a reasonable price and on satisfactory conditions.


6305  RESOLVED:- That the action taken in authorising negotiations for premises at Smethwick on the lines indicated in the foregoing report be confirmed.




Continued ....