Britain's First Municipal Savings Bank
Part One: The History of Birmingham Corporation Savings Bank
Chapter 6: THE BANK COMMITTEE, 1916 - 1918
Birmingham Corporation
Savings Bank

Addressing the City Council on his re-election as Lord Mayor on the 9th November, 1916, Alderman Neville Chamberlain said:-
Among the events of the past year there is none that has given greater personal satisfaction to me than the establishment of a Municipal Bank. A somewhat factious opposition brought about a serious delay which was not only the cause of a total unnecessary loss of time, but also deprived us, I think, of the co-operation of certain other large towns which did not wait until the Act was passed, but started different methods of inducing their workers to put savings on one side. In spite of this unfortunate delay, in spite of the hampering restrictions inserted in the second Bill - especially the one providing that the Bank should be wound up within three months of the termination of the war - I believe the experiment we are making will prove the foundation of further and more enlightened legislation, and that ultimately it may be found to have a far-reaching influence on local government. In this connection I wish to thank all who have assisted me in the work, and especially Councillor Hallas, whose energy and influence has helped in an exceptional degree.

The Council at the same meeting re-appointed the original Bank Committee, with the Lord Mayor as chairman.

At the end of the year 1916 the Bank suffered a serious loss. The Lord Mayor, summoned by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lloyd George) to take charge of the new Department of National Service, yielded to the call of duty, and resigned his Municipal office. One recalls visiting Alderman Chamberlain in the Lord Mayor's parlour on Boxing Day, and talking over with him the future of the Bank. It was easy to see he was torn with conflicting emotions; his own inclination being to remain in Birmingham, where he was happy in his work and where he could continue to look after the Bank. But this new appointment had been put to him in such a way by the Prime Minister, that it left Alderman Chamberlain no alternative.

Just at a time when the Bank needed help most it was bereft of its chairman, but from a letter sent to the succeeding Lord Mayor (Alderman A. D. Brooks) it was clear that Alderman Chamberlain did not look upon this severance from the Bank as permanent. In this letter he said:
My interest in the Bank remains unabated, although I am, for the time, unable to take further part in its administration.

The new Lord Mayor felt it to be necessary that the head of the Municipality should also be the head of the Bank, particularly at that critical stage, and his prompt acceptance of the position helped to retain confidence amongst depositors.

Alderman Brooks came in for a very heavy time, particularly in respect of the food problem, and had to devote his energies to that vital matter. His organisation of the food supplies for Birmingham, and the rationing system he was mainly instrumental in introducing and working so successfully, kept him very busy. For the valuable services he rendered to the city in this and other directions he received the honour of knighthood. He was able, however, to rely upon Councillor Appleby to help him in regard to the Bank, and splendidly did this combination work.

On the 9th November, 1917, the Council appointed the Bank Committee as follows:
 The Lord Mayor (Alderman A. D. Brooks)
    Alderman J. H. Lloyd, J.P.
    Alderman T. O. Williams
    Councillor C. T. Appleby
    Councillor J. Beard
    Councillor E. Hallas
the Lord Mayor continuing as chairman.

In June, 1918, Alderman Chamberlain, who had, in the preceding year, resigned his position as Director-General of National Service, again became associated with the Bank, and in September, 1918, steps were taken to amend the rules so as to admit of an increase of two in the membership of the Bank Committee, and the necessary approval having been obtained, the Council at its meeting on the 9th November, 1918, appointed the committee as follows:-
    The Lord Mayor (Alderman A. D. Brooks)
    Alderman Neville Chamberlain
    Alderman J. H. Lloyd, J.P.
    Alderman W. E. Lovsey, J.P.
    Alderman T. O. Williams
    Councillor C. 'I'. Appleby
    Councillor J. Beard
    Councillor E. Hallas.
The Bank Committee at its first meeting appointed Alderman Chamberlain as its chairman.

Councillor Hallas, having been elected a Member of Parliament, resigned from the Council, but was in due course elected to the Bank Committee as a non-Council member, and in July, 1919, the committee was enlarged by the addition of the following members:
    Councillor J. Fryer
    Councillor R. R. Gelling
    Councillor C. Keatley
    Councillor N. Tiptaft
Councillor Gelling took a prominent part in the whirlwind campaign, addressed many meetings and rendered much assistance in the preparatory work of setting up the permanent Bank, and has continued his membership of the Bank Committee.