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Report - Birmingham Municipal Bank - Feb 2010


Memento vivere
28DL Full Member
Initially a solo explore, I spent a good number of hours here before meeting up with a couple of others, what an amazing place. I'm glad I seized the opportunity to see this.

A short history of the BMB:

The Birmingham Municipal Bank was set up on September 1st 1919 as a savings bank for the citizens of Birmingham.

The Banks first General Manager, Mr J P Hilton, wrote a book about the progress of the bank from 1919 to 1927 entitled 'The Romance of a Great Achievement' There were 4 chapters covering the possibilities for Municipal banks expansion and spread around the country and world.

In January 1928 a Departmental Committee, appointed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to consider the question of an extension of municipal banks to other towns issued their report which concluded:

"the Birmingham Bank is undoubtedly rendering very real service to thrift in an area in which the pre-existing facilities were less fully developed than in other parts of the country. Moreover it is now a living institution with a vigorous individuality of its own; within a few years, thanks to the energy and ability devoted to its service, it has come to hold a high place in the minds of a great number of the citizens. Such an institution claims respect for itself ….'"

in 1930 the Broad Street site was purchased by the bank, in December that year the Bank Committee invited British Architects to submit designs in competition for the new Head Offices. The winning design was that of Mr T C Howitt, FRIBA, of Nottingham, who was subsequently appointed Architect for the building.


The architects drawing by Thomas Cecil Howitt, OBE (1889 - 1968)

the building was officially opened on the 27th November, 1933.

It became a Trustee Savings Bank (TSB) in 1976, before amalgamating with the TSB of the Midlands to become part of the TSB of Birmingham and the Midlands on November 20th 1979.

The building was granted grade II listed status on October 14th, 1996 and finally closed it doors on October 23rd, 1998.

on May 9th 2006 Birmingham council paid over £3,000,000 to buy the building which now has planning consent for leisure purposes as part of the 'Arena Central' scheme, it has been used for a number of productions and performances since being bought by the council.


The main banking hall with it's distinctive U shaped counter, this was unfortunately destroyed at some point and found piled in a stairwell.


In each corner of the main banking hall were these square heating duct covers.


The entrance into the main hall from the inside.


The ceiling, wishing for a wide angle lens!


some of the shields on the wall




The City of Birmingham's Coat of Arms


and again in stained glass.







Looking down at the doors to the back of the main hall.

After spending a lot of time in the main hall I decided to go and look for the room I really wanted to see! The first stairwell I took led me down to this gate, I knew I was almost there...


After pausing briefly to take that picture I poked my head around the door and was greeted with this.

There have been better photographs taken of this room, but even the best photos don't do justice to the sense of awe at looking round this room, filled to the brim with shiny silver boxes!





There were draws packed with pouches of keys, alas no sign of the banks master key so the few still locked deposit boxes couldn't be checked for 'lost property'


Most of the boxes were locked open


To return to a little bit of history, the safety deposit room initially only contained 4,640 secure boxes, this photo was taken in the early 1930's before the additional blocks of safes were added to bring the total number of safes up to 10,528.

After drooling in the shiny room for probably longer than is healthy, I took a look round the rest of the place, there is certainly no shortage of things to see in this place.


This strongroom was located at the back of the Safe Deposit area, and was used to hold the branch's cash. No way to peek in this room.


This dial wouldn't even turn - no practising my safe cracking skills here...


There were mirrors at each corner of the basement corridors, it was strange walking down here towards a mirror and not seeing yourself in it...


Heading back upstairs there is the very grand Ancona Walnut panelled committee boardroom.


This picture from 1933 shows the original barrel vaulted ceiling, later replaced with the one in my photo above, destroying the rooms proportions.

Finally (but certainly not least..) two cliché shots that had to be taken.


The 'lonely chair'




Memento vivere
28DL Full Member
The original door to the safety deposit room was in the same place as the newer one, but was a much more elaborate affair - now this is a door!



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