Subsequent to the Municipal Savings Banks (War Loan Investment) Act, receiving Royal Assent on August 23rd 1916 it became critical that a Manager be appointed for the newly created Birmingham Corporation Savings Bank as soon as possible. At a meeting of the Bank's Committee on September 8th, the Lord Mayor (Neville Chamberlain) reported that he and Councillor Appleby had selected four of the applicants from the letters received and had interviewed them. The remaining members of the Committee were asked to interview two of them that afternoon.
The two applicants interviewed were a Mr Forrest (who was considered unsuitable) and a Mr J P Hilton, who was Deputy Clerk to the Guardians at West Bromwich, and who was received favourably.
John Peter Hilton (who was aged 35) stated that he wished to take on the work and hesitated only on the grounds that the post was not permanent. The Committee stated that they could not guarantee that the Manager would be transferred to another Corporation department in the event that the temporary Bank was wound up after the War. The Committee therefore asked Mr Hilton to consider the matter and inform them in due course whether, in the event of his accepting the post and the Bank closing at the termination of the War, what sum would he require as compensation.
The Committee received the following letter from Mr Hilton a few days later:
24 Jesson Street
10th September 1916
To the Chairman & Members of the Savings
Bank Committee for the City of Birmingham.
In conformity with my promise when before the Committee on Friday afternoon last I write to signify my willingness to undertake the duties of Manager of the Municipal Savings Bank about to be started at remuneration after the rate agreed upon, viz:- £300 per annum, and I desire to express my very sincere thanks for the offer of the post which the Committee extended to me.
I feel it to be a great privilege to be selected as Manager of the first Municipal Savings Bank in the Country and trust that my services in that capacity will justify your choice. I shall leave no stone unturned in order to help the Lord Mayor and the Committee to place the Bank in such a position that when the War is over the Bank's position, and the Committee's position in the matter, will be sufficiently strong to cause Parliament to give the Bank a permanent status.
I am extremely grateful to the Committee for the sympathetic consideration they gave to the question on Friday last of what might be my position after the war, and feel satisfied that every effort was made to find a way out of what appeared to be a difficulty. Being assured of the goodwill of the Committee in my future state I am quite prepared to leave my future in the hands of the Committee, who will, I hope, by that time have had an opportunity of testing my worth and judging my abilities.
In compliance with the wishes of the Committee to name a figure as compensation to be paid to me in the event of the Bank being wound up and my services dispensed with, I would ask that a year's salary should be allowed, but I fervently hope that such a drastic procedure will not be found necessary, and that we shall be able to run the Bank with such a measure of success that its future will be assured. If enthusiasm and solid hard work will secure that end you may rest assured that on my part such work will be given to the Bank.
On the question of when I can take up the duties I hope to write the Lord Mayor in a day or two. I have spoken with the Chairman of the West Bromwich Board of Guardians, who is quite a supporter of the scheme, and he writes that having regard to the National importance of the matter be considered I ought to be released as early as possible. On the question of loaning my services to the Bank he views the matter, as I indicated he would, with disfavour. He puts it that the matter should be either their servant or your servant, so that this suggestion I fear must fall to the ground.
Again thanking the Committee for the distinction conferred upon me and assuring you of my very best efforts to fulfil your expectations.
Believe me to be,
(Signed) J P Hilton.
The Committee agreed to appoint J P Hilton as Manager of the Corporation Savings Bank, at a salary of £300 per annum, to date from September 18th 1916. He would be under the supervision of the City Treasurer and in the event of the Bank being wound up at the termination of the War, and no equivalent post being found for him with the Corporation or other Public Authority, he would be entitled to one year's salary as compensation for loss of office.