Safe Custody
The Bank's system for the safe storage of Customers' packets and passbooks

Unlike commercial banks, the BMB did not provide a general Safe Custody facility at its branches, ie the facility for customers to deposit sealed packages in branch strongrooms. However, secure storage facilities became available at its Head Office following the opening of the new premises in Broad Street in 1933.


The Safe Deposit in Broad Street provided a large number of individual safes for customers to rent. However, the fascia size (3¼" by 5?") of the majority (over 80%) of these safes precluded the deposit of large items. To cater for bulky packages, and additionally, to provide an alternative service when all the individual safes were rented, a Safe Custody facility (known as Safe Deposit Packets) was made available. The secure area in which these packages were held, was one of the two rooms located at the rear of the Safe Deposit strongroom (see 'Special Deposits' on the Basement Plan of the building).


Packages were deposited in return for an annual fee, and unlike the rental of an individual safe, access to the package was not freely available without notice. The customers completed a Safe Custody Agreement form, in which they acknowledged that …. subject to the next sentence, the Bank’s liability for loss or damage to the contents of the packet arising from fire, theft or accident is limited to £500. I/We further acknowledge that the Bank is not liable at all for any such loss or damage which is the result of my/any of our omission or breach of condition 2 and that the Bank is not liable at all for any loss or damage arising in any other way.


The following was printed on the rear of the Agreement:


Safe Custody Conditions


Packets may be accepted from Customers for safe custody subject to the following terms and conditions: 

1.    The packet shall be signed and sealed in the presence of the Bank’s staff. 

2.    The packet shall not contain anything of a noxious, explosive, spontaneously inflammable or   otherwise of a dangerous or illegal nature or anything which might suffer material deterioration in storage. The customer warrants that he will have full rights to deposit any item which is contained in the packet. It is expressly agreed that the Bank shall be deemed not to have knowledge of the contents of the packet. 

3.    Where the customer consists of two or more persons the packet may be removed, or accessed, or this agreement may be terminated in accordance with the instructions contained overleaf. All obligations and warranties under this agreement are joint and several. 

4.   The Bank reserves the right to request 24 hours notice before permitting access to or removal of the packet. Packets may be removed or inspected only during normal bank hours and on production of the Customer’s Copy of the Safe Custody Agreement. 

5.   In the event of death of any one or more Customer the survivor or survivors shall be deemed to be the sole or surviving Customer(s) upon satisfactory evidence of death being produced. In the event of the death of a sole Customer the Bank may permit any person or persons claiming to be the Legal Personal Representative(s) of the deceased to inspect the contents of the packet and, if necessary, remove any Will. Upon production of the Grant of Probate, or Letters of Administration, the Executors or Administrators named therein may remove the packet. 

6.    The Bank’s liability for loss or damage to the contents of the packet shall not exceed the liability stated overleaf. 

7.    The Customer shall indemnify the Bank against:-

(a)  any claim(s) arising from any injury to any individual on the Bank’s premises and any damage to any customer’s property

(b)  any damage to the Bank’s property

caused by the contents of the packet. 

8.    The annual charge for each packet is payable in advance and shall be in accordance with the Bank’s scale of charges currently in force on the first day of the period. 

9.   The Customer may terminate this agreement at any time by notice to the Bank, removal of the packet and payment of any outstanding charges. 

10. The Bank may terminate this agreement:-

(a)  at any time by one month’s notice to the Customer;

(b)   in the event of any breach by the Customer of this or any other agreement with the Bank, by notice to the Customer taking effect immediately. 

11. The Customer must collect the packet within 28 days of receipt of notice of termination of the agreement. If the customer fails to do so the Bank may at its option either retain the packet (without any obligation as to its safe custody) or send it by post to the last known address of the Customer. All charges incurred by the Bank in doing so will be payable by the Customer and may be debited to any account of the Customer with the Bank. 

12. Following termination the Customer shall not be entitled to any refund of the annual charge in respect of the remainder of the current period. 

13. The Bank may vary these terms and conditions ay any time. The variation shall become effective upon notice being displayed in branches of the Bank or otherwise being given to the Customer in such manner as the Bank considers appropriate.



An exception to the branch restriction on accepting items for safe custody was made for depositors’ passbooks. These were known as  Retained Passbooks, and were left with the branch for a variety of reasons, examples of which are shown here, and in an extract from Small Heath branch’s Retained Passbook Register, reproduced below.
Examples of entries in the 'Reason for Leaving Book' column of Small Heath branch's Register of Pass Books retained:
Serving HMF (Army)
Found in Branch Manager's Basket
In Lodgings
Home Safe Broken open - afraid of Robbery
While in Hospital
Domestic Problems
Unclaimed Transfer
Standing Order
Away from home
Deposit Received from RAF Geilenkirchen Germany with request to retain book