Birmingham Corporation Savings Bank
Depositors' Ledger - Accounts Numbered C1 to C600
Birmingham Corporation
Savings Bank
This surviving example of a Ledger, that was used to record the transactions of depositors in the Birmingham Corporation Savings Bank (BCSB), has provision for 600 accounts - with 600 pre-numbered columns printed three-to-a-page. This was a different format to that used in other ledgers, and the accounts recorded here were also different in having the prefix 'C' prior to the account number.
The Ledger also contained unnumbered columns (as below - used for Accounts C99 and C8) that were used  for continuation transactions. Also, presumably because there were not enough of these unnumbered columns in the Ledger, some pre-numbered columns were utilised for this purpose - as in the second example below where three pre-numbered accounts were not used for new accounts - in the example below, folios C484 to C486 have been used as continuation columns for Accounts C144, C149, and C151.
The Ledger provides an illustration of some aspects of how the Bank worked and how it recorded transactions in the earliest months of its existence, but also raises some questions as many of the transactions recorded do not conform to the Bank's rules and practices. The Ledger also records the tragic background to the Bank's existence: the First World War.
The basis for numbering the accounts of the BCSB was to commence with the number '1' for the first account and then allocate numbers consecutively as new accounts were opened. This special ledger not only had a prefix to the account numbers, but the initial deposits do not follow in chronological order. The Bank commenced business on September 29th 1916, and Account C1 was opened on January 2nd 1917. However, the next two accounts were opened on February 1st and January 27th 1917.
The basis of the Bank's operations was savings made by the purchase of coupons through the depositor's employer. There are few consistent details of the depositor in the Ledger's account headings (eg full name; name of employer; address) as these were recorded separately on Signature Cards. Moreover, many of the depositors in the Ledger are serving in HM Forces. Account C2 (above) has many deposits of 1, which would have been the pattern of saving 1/- coupons until a Coupon Card was filled to the value of 1, and then credited to the depositor's account.  Alternatively, the monthly pattern of the 1 deposits suggests these were deductions from his Army pay. The credits for 12/10d to Account C3 are more frequent, but it was not possible to purchase coupons to this value. The prevalence of accounts for servicemen with monthly pay credits suggest that this Ledger was initially set up for that special purpose. Many of the account headings have a reference number preceded by 'N', indicating that the depositor had completed a Nomination.
Account C1 was in the name of Rifleman 465037 R M Sargisson. An initial address is recorded as "29 Hut, A Company, 25th Reserve Battalion, F E Trevethan Camp, Falmouth". The address was amended to "12th Battalion, Kings Royal Rifles, British Expeditionary Force, France".
The account was opened on January 2nd 1917 with a deposit of 31 - 16s - 9d. This deposit is followed by monthly deposits of 15 - 3s - 2d., possibly his army salary, although these seem high amounts for a Rifleman whose rate of pay would be not much more than 1/- per day.
No interest has been calculated on the transactions during the period to March 31st 1917, but the sum of 6/4d is capitalised at the year-end. The calculation of interest only at the year-end would have been a huge logistical exercise and varies from the system used for accounts in other ledgers. The Bank's Rule 11 allowed for interest to "be calculated at the rate of seven-tenths of a penny on every complete per month" (ie 3%). The 'complete per month' rule means that a deposit made on the 1st of the month only starts to qualify to earn interest from the following month - this strict rule was used by other savings banks, but was subsequently relaxed by the Birmingham Municipal Bank (BMB) so that a deposit made on the 1st of the month was counted for that month.
 In the case of Account C1, right, the calculation basis would have been:
 - 31 for February and March (59 days @ 3%) = 3/7d
 - 46 for March (31 days @ 3%) = 2/9d
 - Total Interest = 6/4d
The interest calculations may have been assisted by the use of tables, but the huge clerical effort involved was not assisted by having to write 'Mch 31 Int Bal' on every account. A rubber stamp was employed at the next capitalisation at September 30th 1917.
From April 1st 1917, the ongoing transaction system that was used in the other ledgers (the system that was to be used by the BMB) was employed. Interest on the April 1st balance of 62 is calculated at 3% for 183 days (ie to the next capitalisation at September 30th) and the value in the Interest Column is calculated for each ensuing transaction. Surprisingly, the interest values are calculated to one-tenth of a penny, and every transactions appears to have been independently checked.
Sadly, with many of the depositors serving in the armed forces, the Ledger records the death of soldiers on active duty. Benjamin Charles Line was killed in action on April 27th 1917. The Bank has taken as evidence of death a letter written by Gunner Line's commanding officer in lieu of a Death Certificate.
Clues as to why Ledger C does not conform to the Bank's coupon system may be contained in the Bank's Committee minutes that record that a letter was written in November 1916 to the "Heads of Departments of the Corporation suggesting the investment of allowances granted to members of the staff on active service in the Bank". As it is known (from a memorial plaque in the Council House) that Benjamin Charles Line worked in the Town Clerk's Department, it may be that this Ledger was reserved for Corporation employees and the credits are this allowance or their reserve pay.
Gunner 841087 Line of the Royal Field Artillery is commemorated on the Arras Memorial in France (right).
Depositors' Department