Birmingham suffered 77 air raids between August 9th 1940 and April 23rd 1943, resulting in the death of 2,241 of its citizens. Extensive damage was caused to the city's housing, industrial, and commercial buildings. The Bank's Head Office and a number of branches were amongst those that were damaged by enemy action.
Branches that suffered damage were:
In addition, Birchfield branch was forced to close temporarily due to a nearby unexploded bomb. Some details relating to how these branches were affected by the air raids is contained in the following extracts from the Bank's archives. Similar details relating to Head Office are reproduced separately.
War Damage to Bank Buildings
(Finance & General Purposes Sub-Committee: October 21st 1940)
Your Sub-Committee have received a report from the General Manager on damage caused to the undermentioned Bank buildings:
Hay Mills Branch - August 15th-16th
Stechford Branch - August 15th-16th
Pype Hayes Branch - August 26th
Bordesley Green Branch - August 26th-27th
Pype Hayes Branch - September 3rd
With the exception of Bordesley Green, the damage caused was slight and repairs have been effected. With regard to Bordesley Green, the damage is more serious, consisting of serious cracks in ceilings and walls and the back portion of the flat messroom and lavatory being rendered useless. The premises were temporarily secured at the rear and business is being continued at the Branch.
Mr Surman (Architect) has been consulted and is preparing plans for a reconstruction of the premises as a one-storey building. When the plans are ready an estimate of the cost of the reconstruction will be obtained.
The tenant of the flat has made arrangements to remove his belongings and does not intend to again take up residence in the district.
Owing to delayed action bombs in the vicinity of the Birchfield Branch, the business of the branch was temporarily transferred to Aston branch from the 26th August to 6th September, when business was resumed at Birchfield.
Damage by Enemy Action to Branch Bank Premises
(Finance & General Purposes Sub-Committee: March 17th 1941)
In accordance with the authority given by Minute No. 6873 of 21st October 1940, the necessary steps have been taken to effect the requisite repairs to the Acocks Green branch premises, which were slightly damaged by enemy action about the 10th February last.
(Report by General Manager: April 16th 1943)
In May last the City Surveyor asked for a list of war damaged properties belonging to the Bank and for particulars of any schemes for re-conditioning and re-building after cessation of hostilities. The information was supplied.
In January 1943 the Chairman of the Reconstruction Committee (Alderman Tiptaft) addressed two letters to Alderman Morland asking for definite post war suggestions which might be included in a wider programme of post war development, and stating that it might be possible to produce a small brochure showing something of what Birmingham will look like after the war, and that any illustrations of our newest ideas in Banks, or particulars of further suggested services, which might be incorporated in the brochure, would be of help.
I expressed the view that the Bank Committee would probably desire to discuss the matter before an official reply to Alderman Tiptaft's letter was sent.
We have already agreed that when the war is over new buildings will be erected to take the place of temporary structures at Tower Hill, Wells Green, Kitts Green and Alum Rock. At Rubery and near to the 'Maypole' we own land, on which it is intended to erect Branch Banks. Some of our premises badly damaged by bombing will require re-building or more extensive alterations to put them into a proper condition. Other premises are known to be inadequate for our needs, ie Sparkhill, Harborne, Aston Cross, etc. At Harborne it is understood that when the main road is widened the Bank will be allowed a site, and at Pheasey a site has been set apart for the Bank on land belonging to the First National Housing Trust.
As to how far the Committee might desire to extend the sphere of the Bank's activities has not been discussed. The powers we possess would enable us to go into the area of any County or County Borough adjoining Birmingham with the consent of the appropriate Authority, and this covers a wide field. It means we could establish Banks in any part of Staffordshire, Warwickshire or Worcestershire, except where the County Borough does not adjoin Birmingham, such as Coventry, Wolverhampton, etc. There is definitely scope in such places as West Bromwich, Rowley Regis, Tamworth, Lichfield, etc, and there are still parts of Birmingham where a Branch would be acceptable and where the prospects are good.
I do not, however, think that any developments by the Bank would have a vital bearing on the deliberations of the Reconstruction Committee. Anything we do would be gradual and would be dependent upon the state of our funds, because we do not look to the Council for any money in respect of our own development. We could, of course, supply Alderman Tiptaft with any photographs he may desire relating to our Banks, showing the latest type which has been erected, etc.
Bordesley Green Branch Premises
(Finance & General Purposes Sub-Committee: June 17th 1946)
Your Sub-Committee report that the necessary permits have now been obtained for the carrying out of the partial re-construction of these premises.
The Committee are reminded that plans for this partial re-construction, (including the provision of two small flats) at an estimated cost of £1,960, (of which £550 is the probable amount of the war damage claim) were provisionally approved by the Committee on 3rd December, 1945.
The General Manager has been directed to request the Architects to prepare the necessary Bills of Quantities with a view to tenders being advertised for in due course.
Balsall Heath Branch
(Finance & General Purposes Sub-Committee: June 17th 1946)
Your Sub-Committee report that the dangerous parts at the rear of these premises have now been either propped up or demolished by Messrs W & J Webb, Builders.
The Architect, Mr Surman, states that a representative of the War Damage Commission recently visited the property and agreed that to leave it in its present condition would mean only further deterioration and expense chargeable to the War Damage Commission. The representative promised to get the Commission to press the Ministry of Health to sanction final re-construction as soon as possible.
Moseley Branch - Reconstruction
(Finance & General Purposes Sub-Committee: January 20th 1947)
The Committee are reminded that they authorised their Chairman to accept the most suitable of the three lowest Tenders received. The City Surveyor has reported favourably upon the standing of the lowest Tenderers, Messrs R G Stainton & Co., and the Chairman has therefore accepted their Tender at the sum of £2,382. 10. 0. The Town Clerk has accordingly been directed to enter into the necessary Contract, affixing the Corporate Seal thereto under the authority given by Minute No. 8127.
Balsall Heath Branch - Reconstruction
(Finance & General Purposes Sub-Committee: July 21st 1947)
Tenders have been obtained for this work and the lowest tender namely, that of Messrs R G Stainton & Co Ltd at the sum of £3,624 has been provisionally accepted.
It will be recalled that the Ministry of Health's sanction under Defence regulation 56A given in July last year was for the permissible amount of £2,494 and the War Damages Commission were prepared to accept the same figure.
In May last, however Mr Surman expressed the opinion that owing to the rise in prices, the permissible amount and the licence should be subject to some increase. The Ministry of Health were prepared to consider such an increase when actual tenders were received for the work or, alternatively, when the work was executed. The War Damage Commission also first required evidence of present day costs.
The amount of the accepted tender will therefore, be used as a basis for official negotiations with the Ministry of Health and the War Damage Commission and your Sub-Committee recommend that subject to their consents being received to the increase in the permissible amount, formal acceptance of the tender be given and the Town Clerk instructed to prepare and seal the necessary contract.
Reconstruction of Balsall Heath Branch, including living quarters
(Finance & General Purposes Sub-Committee: October 20th 1947)
At their July meeting, your Committee provisionally confirmed acceptance of the tender of Messrs R G Stainton and Co Ltd, at the sum of £3,624. 0. 0d, for the reconstruction of the Balsall Heath Branch, such tender to be used as a basis for official negotiations with the Ministry of Health and the War Damage Commission to obtain their consents to the necessary increase in the permissible amount. The Contractors who were informed that no notification of acceptance of the tender could be made until agreement had been reached with these Authorities, assisted by lending their priced-in quantities.
The Ministry of Health subsequently intimated that any licence granted would be limited to £3,000. The Architect (Mr Surman) accordingly prepared a schedule of omissions and additions from the original specification in order to reduce the cost entailed and the revised figure was eventually settled as £2,987. 0. 10d, which cost the Ministry of Health have now authorised.
In addition to this work, the Ministry has also authorised the carrying out of certain demolition work by the Public Works Department at an estimated cost of £159. 3. 7d.
The architect has now agreed with the War Damage Commission for payment up to the licence granted by the Ministry of Health, namely £2,987. 0. 10d, as well as the allocation of a provisional sum not exceeding £200 for demolition work.
Your Committee are recommended subject to the Contractor's acceptance, to approve these arrangements and to instruct the Town Clerk to prepare and seal the necessary contract with Messrs Stainton & Co Ltd accordingly.
Building and Reconstruction of Branch Bank Premises
(Finance & General Purposes Sub-Committee: December 17th 1947)
At their meeting of July 16th 1945, the Bank's Committee gave directions for a number of schemes to be prepared for the building, enlargement, or alterations of a number of branches. Details are included in the appropriate branch pages, but listed below are those that related to War Damage work:
Balsall Heath - partial reconstruction £3,600 War Damage Claim: £2,500
Moseley - partial reconstruction £3,512 War Damage Claim: £1,635
Bordesley Green - partial reconstruction
allowing for 2 small flats £1,960 War Damage Claim: £550
Alum Rock - new premise with flat £6,574 War Damage Claim: £5,000
(Note: although the original record as reproduced above specifies only 1 flat above the replacement Alum Rock premises, the actual rebuild included 2 flats.)