The Second World War - Bomb Damage at Head Office
Second World War - Branches

Air raid damage to the Bank's Head Office in Broad Street was limited to shrapnel marks on the building's exterior (still visible over 70 years later) and some percussion damage. By the time that the repair of this war damage to the Bank's premises came to be considered in 1946, the main consideration in relation to the Head Office was one of general repair and maintenance. The difficulties involved in getting building work done in the immediate post-war period are illustrated in the reports of the Bank's Finance & General Purposes Sub-Committee (who sought the advice of the building's Architect, T Cecil Howitt) that are reproduced below.


The percussion damage  that required attention after the cessation of hostilities was the decorative windows that faced the Broad Street loggia from the ground floor's north corridor. This wall contained four such windows, that depicted Industry & Progress;Commerce & Integrity; Labour & Perseverance; and Banking & Finance. The repair of these windows was the subject of correspondence between Mr Howitt and the John Hardman Studios. The John Hardman Studios were founded in 1838, and were one of the world's leading manufacturers of stained glass; their main workshop was at Newhall Hill in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter.

Head Office - Repairs and Decorations

(Finance & General Purposes Sub-Committee: July 15th 1946)

Mr Howitt (the Architect) attended before your Sub-Committee and stated that in his opinion no good purpose would be served in deferring the question of the repairs and decorations which were necessary in respect of the Head Office of the Bank. He informed the Sub-Committee that there were approximately 650 items which included items in respect of War Damage in addition to ordinary maintenance.

Mr Howitt intimated that he was not impressed with the 'cost plus' system which would slow down the work and preferred to have a fixed amount in respect of the work involved.

The necessary Authorities have been approached for licences and the position was clarified in the following letter to the General Manager from the City Surveyor dated 27th May, 1946.

Dear Sir

Ministry of Health Circular 123/45

Licensing of Building Work

Maintenance and War Damage Repairs Municipal Bank - Head Office

In reply to your letter of the 6th May enclosing copy of specification and schedule of maintenance and war damage repairs to be carried out at the above, I confirm that no building licence is required for work of this nature on property vested in the Corporation. I would, however, remind you that the Ministry desire all Local Authorities to adopt the same standard of work, viz, wartime standard, as those which they observe when considering applications for building licences from owners of private property.

If it is your intention to proceed with this work forthwith, I must remind you that I am not authorised to issue W.B.A. Priority for any controlled material you may require, as such priority is restricted to the supply of material for new housing accommodation only.

I return the specifications and schedule herewith.

I am,

Yours faithfully,

Herbert J Manzoni,

City Engineer & Surveyor.

Some of the work to be done would not require much material and Mr Howitt thought that W.B.A. priority might be secured for such items as special glass windows, masonry and granite work.

The War Damage items are estimated at 1,350 and general maintenance 5,300. A large percentage of the general maintenance was in respect of internal and external decoration, deferred during the war period, and the greater part of the work would not require labour to be utilised for housing.

Maintenance repairs and decorations were distinct from War Damage, which it could be agreed with the War Damage Commission to have done and the cost of reinstatement negotiated.

After consideration the Sub-Committee authorised the Architect to carry out such work on maintenance and decorations as he may consider appropriate, having regard to the present circumstances and public opinion. They now ask that this action be confirmed.

With regard to the procedure on maintenance and decorations, the Architect considered it desirable that Messrs Whittall and Son Ltd, (who built the Head Office) should be asked to submit a firm tender for the cost of the work, based on specifications and drawings to be supplied to them by the Architect, plus a fixed fee to be paid to Messrs Whittalls for controlling the satisfactory execution of the work by the respective sub-contractors, who would be directly engaged by Messrs Whittalls.

The Architect has been requested to arrange accordingly, and your Committee are recommended to confirm this action and to authorise that the necessary contract should be an exception to the requirements of the Standing Orders of the Council as to advertising for tenders.


Head Office - Repairs and Decorations

(Finance & General Purposes Sub-Committee: July 21st 1947)

When this question was discussed in May last year your Committee were of opinion that it would be preferable to await the licence from the Ministry of Works so that the whole of the work could proceed in a proper sequence.

In view however, of the poor condition of the Assembly Hall, Luncheon Room and the ceiling of the Committee Room, Mr Howitt has been authorised to arrange the redecoration of these rooms before the Conference of the Trustee Savings Banks Association, and at the same time to deal with urgent repairs to the rubberoid flooring in the Safe Deposit. Your Sub-Committee ask for confirmation of this action.


Head Office Decorations

(Finance & General Purposes Sub-Committee: October 20th 1947)

Your Sub-Committee report that good progress has been made with the re-decorations of the Assembly Hall, Luncheon Room and Committee Room ceiling, and it is hoped to complete the work in good time before the half-yearly meeting of the Trustee Savings Banks Association.

With regard to the authorised repairs to the rubber flooring in the Safe Deposit, Mr Howitt, the Architect, has reported that in removing the rubber pavement, certain underlying condensation was discovered and recommended that an asphalt carpet  " thick should be laid by Messrs Val-de-Travers in order to prevent dampness, at an approximate cost of 211. 4. 0d., for the whole of the interior of the Safe Deposit and the main corridor in front and a further charge of 14. 8. 0d., for the Head Office Cash Strong Room.

This work has accordingly been authorised and your Committee are recommended to confirm the action  taken in the matter.




Continued ....
BMB during the War