Birmingham Municipal Bank

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Birmingham Municipal Bank
Metal door

The Birmingham Municipal Bank was a savings bank in the city of Birmingham, England. It was created as the Birmingham Corporation Savings Bank by a 1916 Act of Parliament, to raise money to aid World War I. It was the only municipal bank in the country.


Suggested by local politician Neville Chamberlain in 1915, the bank was originally for savings from earnings, earning interest at 3.5%, with most of the income reserved for the government. It opened on 29 September 1916 after resistance from the banks and the Treasury.[citation needed] It had achieved 30,000 new investors by the end of 1917 and was made permanent in 1919. Its Golden Jubilee was celebrated in 1969 by a Birmingham postal slogan: "Municipal Bank Golden Jubilee 1919-1969".

The name changed to Birmingham Municipal Bank by a 1919 Act which allowed the creation of branch banks. By 1950 there were 66 branches. The bank's headquarters moved from a basement (1916) to the Council House (1919), to Edmund Street (1925), and finally to a new building by Thomas Cecil Howitt opposite what is now Centenary Square at 301 Broad Street which was opened on 27 November 1933 by Prince George.[1] It ceased to be a department of the city council in 1976, becoming a Trustee Savings Bank,[2] and moved to the former central Post Office building in New Street. Ultimately the TSBs were privatised, and in 1995 became part of Lloyds TSB.

Sutton Coldfield branch[edit]

In 1935, Birmingham Municipal Bank caused controversy in Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield, when they outlined plans to open a branch in the town for the 4,000 residents who had accounts in the bank. Their plans created an outcry from people from the town, who feared that Birmingham was attempting the annexation of Sutton Coldfield. The protest resulted in a heated debate in the city's council chamber as to whether a written guarantee should be submitted to Sutton Coldfield outlining that they were not annexing the town. A spokesperson for Birmingham later said that they had no plans of annexing the town.[3] Subsequently, ironically, following the Local Government Act 1972, Sutton Coldfield was merged into the city of Birmingham in 1974.


In 2006 the building was sold to Birmingham City Council.[4] The building was granted grade II listed status on 14 October 1996.[5]

In March 2007, Birmingham Opera Company produced a new version of Mozart's Don Giovanni, renamed He Had It Coming, in the bank.

Currently, there are plans to renovate the building for use by Birmingham City University.


Thrift Radiates Happiness[edit]

On 14–17 March 2013 seen the first contemporary arts exhibition held at the building, titled 'Thrift Radiates Happiness'.[6] The title of the exhibition was Thrift Radiates Happiness. The line was taken from an inscription found carved across a main beam within the building.

The exhibition seen the buildings doors open for the first time in 10 years to the public and showcased a creative programme of drawings, images, sound and light, video and sound from local, national and international artists with all work been appropriately focus on finance and investment.

The showcase event was the result of an arts and business collaboration between Birmingham based gallery TROVE, Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Birmingham Architectural Association (BAA), Birmingham City Council and global architect practice Aedas. Entrance to the exhibition was free thanks to funding awarded by The Arts Council, RIBA and Aedas.

Universe of Sound[edit]

The Universe of Sound:The Planets exhibition ran from 25 May until 16 June with Esa-Pekka Salonen as conductor.[7]

Universe of Sound allowed visitors to take a leap into space in the company of Gustav Holst, Strauss, György Ligeti and Stanley Kubrick, with two concerts, a free digital installation and family activity day.

The amazing experience took place over three weeks, showing what it is like to be part of the Philharmonia Orchestra, and provided a chance for people of any ability to have a go at conducting The Planets through an extraordinary interactive installation. This gave the chance to explore the Orchestra from the inside out using touch screens, movement-based interaction and planetarium-style full-dome projections.

Plus a free fun-filled family activity day, attended by over 800 people allowed people of all ages to find out more about The Planets and the orchestra through live demonstrations, workshops and space-themed performances.


  1. ^ Birmingham Municipal Bank, new head offices, souvenir of opening ceremony performed by His Royal Highness The Prince George, K.G., 27 November 1933
  2. ^ British Banking History Society (2003). "Birmingham Municipal Bank". Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  3. ^ The Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield - A Commemorative History, Douglas V. Jones, 1994, Westwood Press (ISBN 0-9502636-7-2)
  4. ^ "Birmingham City Council buys landmark building on Broad Street". King Sturge. 2006-05-09. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  5. ^ English Heritage. "Details from listed building database (462175)". Images of England. 
  6. ^ "Thrift Radiates Happiness Exhibition Website". 
  7. ^ "Town Hall & Symphony Hall, Birmingham Exhibition Information and Video". 

Further reading[edit]

  • A History of Birmingham, Chris Upton, 1993, ISBN 0-85033-870-0
  • A History of the County of Warwick, Volume 7 – The City of Birmingham, ed W. B. Stephens, University of London Institute of Historical Research, Oxford University Press, 1964

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°28′42.80″N 1°54′27.34″W / 52.4785556°N 1.9075944°W / 52.4785556; -1.9075944