Britain's First Municipal Savings Bank
Part One: The History of Birmingham Corporation Savings Bank
Birmingham Corporation
Savings Bank

The Act of 1916 provided for the Birmingham Corporation Savings Bank being wound up within three months of the end of the war, and in compliance with such requirement the following notice appeared in the London Gazette: -
Municipal Savings Banks (War Loan Investment) Act, 1916.
Birmingham Corporation Savings Bank
Notice is hereby given, pursuant to Section 188 of the Companies (Consolidation) Act, 1908,
that a STATUTORY MEETING OF THE CREDITORS of the above-named Bank will be
held at the Council House, Birmingham, on Monday, 17th November, 1919, at twelve o'clock noon.
Dated 6th November, 1919.                                      F. H. C. WILTSHIRE, TOWN Clerk.
Note:- The winding-up of this Bank is due to its being carried on under a new title, viz.:-
"The Birmingham Municipal Bank," established under the Birmingham Corporation Act, 1919,
and all claims on the old Bank will he met in full.

The note at the end of the above notice makes a remarkable announcement, as to which a few words of explanation are necessary. It will be remembered that one of the conditions of the establishment of any Municipal Savings Bank, under the act of 1916, had been that it should be wound up three months after the termination of the war - one of the concessions made to the joint stock banks. The founders of the Birmingham Bank, however, had always declared that if, when the end of the war came, the people of Birmingham had shown a real appreciation of the value of the Bank, some means would and should be found by which it might become a permanent institution. The condition had been fulfilled, the success of the Bank was undoubted, and the time had now come when it was necessary for the Bank Committee to consider how the promise to make the Bank a permanency should be carried out.

Accordingly, it was proposed to include in an omnibus Bill, promoted by the Birmingham Corporation, powers to establish a Municipal Savings Bank; and, at the same time, opportunity was taken to get rid of some of the restrictions which had proved so difficult in the original Bank The main features of the new Bill will be described in a later chapter. Let it suffice here to say that the Bill was, after careful examination by the Local Legislation Committee of the House of Commons, carried to the Statute Book in the year 1919; and arrangements were made by the committee, which enabled them, before the actual winding-up of the old Bank, to transfer its deposits and the claims of its creditors, and others to the new Bank to be established under the new private Act.

This statutory meeting of creditors duly took place, and was attended by the Lord Mayor (Alderman W. A. Cadbury), Councillor C. T. Appleby, the Town Clerk (Mr. F. H. C. Wiltshire), the City Treasurer (Mr. A. Collins), the Assistant Solicitor to the Corporation (Mr. F. M. Minshull), and the writer.

Shortly before the time fixed for the meeting to commence the Chairman of the Bank (Councillor Appleby) asked the writer whether he thought any creditor was likely to put in an appearance. The reply being that it was doubtful whether anybody would take the trouble to attend raised the point as to what would happen in that event. Fearing the possibility of an adjournment, a hasty inspection of the books was made to see if two or more eligible depositors could be found, and persuaded to attend. Discovering the names of Mr. James Jackson (superintendent of the Salvage Department) and Mr. James Dingley (assistant secretary of the Gas Department) amongst the eligible depositors, and as they were within easy reach, the writer explained the position, but not without considerable pleading could these public servants be persuaded to leave their posts - in fact they regarded the overtures more in the nature of a joke! However, they did, in the end, appear.

On the stroke of twelve, Mr. Jackson, a creditor, proposed, and Mr. Dingley, another creditor, seconded, that Councillor Appleby be appointed Chairman of the meeting.
Councillor Appleby explained to the meeting its formal character, and invited the meeting to consider the proposal of a resolution under the statute, at the same time pointing out that such a resolution would have the effect of altering the course which would otherwise be taken under the operation of the Municipal Savings Bank regulations and the resolution passed by the Council.
No resolution being moved, the Chairman declared the business of the meeting at an end, and so the Birmingham Corporation Savings Bank disappeared in red-tape proceedings, just as it had existed under red-tape restrictions and limitations.
In due course a return was forwarded to the Chief Registrar of Friendly Societies, and presumably lies in his archives. One wonders what he thinks of it!

A very good reason why no interest was taken in this statutory meeting of creditors could be given. For several weeks depositors had been transferring their accounts from the temporary Bank to the permanent Bank and consequently were not eligible to attend the meeting, while the list of those who were entitled to attend was a very small one. But another reason was that everybody knew that the same Corporation was running the new Bank with the same guarantee behind it, and that if there was any difference at all, it was the same!

The committee, as liquidators, issued a final account of the Birmingham Corporation Savings Bank under the signature of Councillor Appleby.

Thus ended the first experiment in Municipal banking; an experiment which had been valuable; an effort which had been worthwhile. It paved the way to a bigger and better scheme; it turned a temporary Municipal activity into a permanency.
When congratulating ourselves on the wonderful institution we possess to-day, let us not forget that the Birmingham Municipal Bank exists to-day because of the trials and difficulties successfully overcome in the earlier days.