Obituary: Councillor Charles T Appleby
(Reproduced from Britain's First Municipal Savings Bank by J P Hilton - 1927)
The death of our beloved chairman on the 13th May, 1926, was unexpected. Only thirteen days before his death he saw his wife perform the opening ceremony in connection with the new branch bank at Northfield, an occasion which gave him undisguised pleasure. Little did we think, in chatting to him that day, that he would soon join the great majority. He was not up to his usual standard of health, but gave no indication of serious illness.
The first meeting of the committee after his death was a sad one, the members realising that the Bank has sustained a serious loss. Alderman Lovsey moved in feeling terms the following resolution:
RESOLVED: That this committee hereby record their deep regret at the death of their Chairman, Mr Councillor C T Appleby, who was a member of the committee of management from the commencement of the Bank as a temporary institution in 1916, and who has occupied the chair since the establishment of the Bank on a permanent basis in 1919.
The committee wish to express their profound admiration of the enthusiasm, energy and ability shown by Councillor Appleby in the administration of the Bank, which qualities have contributed so largely to the success achieved and the development of the Bank into one of the most important and useful forms of civic activity in the city of Birmingham.
The committee respectfully offer to Mrs Appleby and her family sincere sympathy in their great sorrow.
No pen can describe adequately what Councillor Appleby meant to the bank. He loved it; he was happy when guiding its development and watching its progress. His self-sacrifice was great; what little spare time he had was spent in visiting parts of the city, looking for sites for more branches. To see him watching the pedestrian traffic at a particular spot, walking up this street, down that street, estimating the possibilities of success, was to see a man really keen on the job.
Councillor Appleby visited the branches very frequently, looked into the work with that professional knowledge and experience he possessed; giving advice here, or an instruction there. Many times has the writer seen him standing on the public side of the counter, watching depositors as they used the Bank, with satisfaction very plainly expressed on his face. He knew they were sowing on good ground, and would reap a good harvest, and that was his reward.
At the end of each year, when the arduous task of carrying through the annual balance and adding interest to the accounts of depositors had to be undertaken, he could always be relied on to put in an appearance at Head Office and the branches. Just a sympathetic word to the staff, prompted by his knowledge of the work involved, produced an atmosphere which ensured the task being performed with enthusiasm, the more so because of the personal interest he displayed. Councillor Appleby had a full grasp of the affairs of the Bank, and no chairman ever had greater confidence in a staff under his control than he had. It was no uncommon experience to hear him say he was proud of everyone, and not the least so of the juniors.
Councillor Appleby had vision; he saw wider spheres of activity and usefulness; he saw this bank used by the citizens, not merely for savings bank and house purchase business, but for collecting Corporation accounts and contributing to economy in civic administration; he saw the elimination of lending organisations; he saw a reducing charge in respect of poor law relief; he visualised the time when pawnshops would be no more, and when credit-purchasing would cease. Some of his visions have become realities; perhaps others may.
We mourn his loss - depositors as well as staff - but we are proud to have had his wise leadership and wonderful enthusiasm. Few men have given higher service for their fellowmen than Councillor Appleby. Conscientious in all he undertook, he gave ungrudgingly of his best to the city in many spheres, and that best was brilliant. He endeared himself to all; his name will live for ever in connection with the Bank; he has set a high standard, which, as a tribute to his memory, we must maintain.
Right: Councillor Appleby speaking at the opening of Small Heath branch on September 25th 1922
Below: Commemoration Tablet at Harborne branch