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Birmingham Corporation Savings Bank -
Depositors' Personal Ledgers
 
 
Depositors' Department
 

There is no surviving physical evidence as to what form of stationery was used to record the accounts of the depositors when the Birmingham Corporation Savings Bank (BCSB) commenced business in September 1916. However, prior to the commencement of the Bank, in listing the stationery that the new institution would require, the City Treasurer included "Depositors' Card Ledger". This suggests that individual cards were employed for each account and this is reinforced by notations on the earliest Personal Ledger Books that survive. This example from such a Ledger Book shows that the Account Balance was Brought Forward from [a] Ledger Card:

Although individual Ledger Cards would have provided a flexible method of recording depositors' transactions, the Bank may have utilised these as a temporary measure or have felt that such a system was not fully secure. The above example shows that about six months after its commencement, the Bank had switched to a system of Ledger Books. The BCSB capitalised interest every six months, with the first instance being at March 31st 1917 - the above example suggests that the depositor had saved 5 in the period up to March 31st 1917, 1/4d interest was capitalised on the previous Ledger Card, and the balance then transferred to the new ledger system.

 

The Ledger Book system split the accounts into blocks of 1,000 accounts. At March 31st 1917, the City Treasurer reported (in relation to the capitalisation and audit work) that there were "17,000 Depositors, contained in 17 ledgers". Each leather-bound ledger (which measured approximately 17" by 14") was embossed with a title indicating the contents. The Ledger illustrated below contained the first 1,000 accounts opened in the BCSB.

The format of the Ledgers was five accounts to a page:
Although the Ledger Books must have been more secure in replacing individual cards that could have been mislaid, misfiled, or falsified replacements inserted, the new system was very inflexible. As the above example shows (column 5, on the right of the page), a column could soon be filled with transactions - in this case, in fourteen months; a note at the foot of the column indicates that the account record continued next to Account Number 79. Columns 2, 3 and 4 have been utilised for Accounts numbered 142, 545 and 441 - the accounts originally recorded in those columns having been closed. To post a transaction, therefore, it may have been necessary to follow a trail of notes through the ledger to find the current column being employed for a particular account number.
 
Each ledger was printed with 1,000 columns pre-printed with the appropriate account numbers. At the rear of the ledger were 200 unnumbered columns on forty pages. To maintain the security numbering system, these pages were numbered 1 to 40. These 'spare' columns were utilised for continuation purposes, but soon became fully used resulting in the use of spare space as in the example page above. The spare unnumbered columns would also become full, as in the following example where an account is carried forward from spare page 33 to spare page 34.
Account Number 161 in the name of Arthur Broadhurst was continued in a column being used for Account Number 148 in the name of Thomas Ashford. Account Number 148 had a balance so was still an open account, but space for further transactions has been allowed. The transactions on Account Number 161 are dated up to March 1919 - at this date a new ledger was about to be introduced so utilising the column of an open account was a short term measure.
 
Accounts numbered 1 to 10 are illustrated below, and the details of the accounts suggest that the original names allocated to the first ten accounts in September 1916 have been transferred to the new Ledger Book, whether there was still an open account or not.
Continued
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The first account opened in the Birmingham Corporation Savings Bank was in the name of Percy Harold Hill of 68 Woodfield Road, Kings Heath. The ledger entry for March 31st 1917 shows that a Balance of 4 - 0 - 6d was transferred from the previous record held on a Ledger Card, and Interest of 1/4d (calculated to one decimal place of pence!) entered in the appropriate column - this is the amount of interest (at 3%) that would be capitalised on September 30th 1917 if no further transactions took place on the account. Account No 2 has no balance transferred on March 31st 1917, but the account was reactivated by a deposit of 9/-d on the following May 7th.
Account No 3 has also been reactivated by a deposit of Nine Shillings on May 7th 1917, but Account No 4 remains without a balance until November 1918 when (as detailed above) the column is utilised for continuation transactions for Account No 441.
Both accounts numbered 5 and 6 have balances transferred from the old ledger on March 31st 1917. The task of manually heading several thousand columns would have been enormous. For repetitive tasks, the Bank was later to use rubber stamps extensively, but on this occasion 'Balance from Ledger Card' is mostly hand-written, with just a few transfers utilising a rubber stamp.
 
Birmingham Corporation
Savings Bank