The BMB during the Second World War:
the Staff's Inspection of Aircraft Parts
During the Second World War, the Bank’s staff contributed to the country’s efforts by inspecting aircraft parts. This work was carried out in the Stationery Department at Head Office, as acknowledged by a plaque (right) being subsequently placed on the door to that department.
Norman Ling (in Memory 023) recalled this work:
During the War the staff undertook - on a so-called voluntary basis - spare time work inspecting rivets, bolts, and similar small parts for the Aircraft Industry and they became so efficient at this that they were able to take over the whole of this work on behalf of one of the City's largest manufacturers (Baxters Bolts Rivets & Screws Ltd). The present Stationery Store at Head Office was taken over and adapted for this purpose - and evening, as well as Sunday shifts were worked, and in spite of frequent bombing raids, the work went on without interruption.
A record of the members of staff who carried out this work was maintained, utilising a City of Birmingham Education Committee’s ‘Attendance Register’. This School Register was annotated on the cover Record of shifts worked by members of BMB staff on inspection of Aircraft rivets.
Extracts from the Bank’s archives provide some background information to this inspection work, including details of the rates of pay. As intimated by Norman Ling, the work was not voluntary. It appears that staff were required to “make-up” their working hours to 46 per week from the average being worked at their normal duties of 42 hours. The work was organised into four shifts of four hours each: Wednesdays (5pm to 9pm); Thursdays (2pm to 6pm); and Sundays (9am to 1pm & 2pm to 6pm). The hours were subsequently reduced from four to three, when the average BMB working week had increased to 43.
The Stationery Department was adapted for the inspection work (black-out arrangements; table partitions; special lighting) at a cost to the Bank of about £37.
The inspection work lasted for 14 months, from October 1942 to November 1943. During this period, 205 tons of rivets were examined, equivalent to 6 million gross of rivets. A report by the General Manager dated January 16th 1943 stated that: Applications for exemption from working extra hours have been considered …. The result is that 32 persons have been granted exemption. The rest of the staff, totalling 202, are regularly engaged on this special work. (Exemption seems to have been granted to some married women and disabled staff.) The register (right), however, lists the names of 299 members of staff, the first 258 being listed in approximately alphabetical order.
The tables reproduced below have been extracted from the register and show, in alphabetical order, the names of MALE and FEMALE staff. Included against the names are any notes that appeared in the original register. These notes included the following:
‘left’ - presumably showing staff who left the Bank in this period;
‘Ill’ - presumably indicating non-attendance due to sickness
‘Ex’ - these are likely to be those members of staff exempted from doing the inspection work, although there are over 40 so marked on the register, compared with 32 detailed in the General Manager‘s report;
‘Forces’ - a member of staff leaving the Bank to join HM Forces;
‘Refused’ - presumably a member of staff who declined to ‘volunteer’ for the work;
‘Manual’ and ‘Canteen’ - non-clerical members of staff.
The page of the Register reproduced below shows the final entries in the 'alphabetical' list plus the names of staff members added subsequently. The red marks presumably indicate attendance.
BMB during the War