Cream Cakes on My First Day
by Sue Brookes (nee Finn)
My best memory of the Bank was my first day! I reported to Bearwood branch as instructed, a very nervous 17 year old straight from school, and was then driven by the Area Manager, who I think would have been Stan Gregory, to my first branch at Harborne. Mr Gregory then went on to buy the whole branch cream cakes, as it was his 25th Wedding Anniversary! I remember going home and telling my Mum what a great place it was! Cream cakes at tea break time, and I didn't have to buy them! Having an 18th Birthday the very next month, I was soon put right on the etiquette of cream cake buying!
An Expensive Round
by Michael Bourke
As a keen member of the Banks Golf Society, I often played with other members of the Banks staff after work. One abiding memory is that of playing with Harold Turner, and being asked by him to watch his golf bag carefully. At that time, Harold was the manager at Cotteridge branch, and on this particular day, the branchs cash at close of business was in excess of the strict limit applicable to Cotteridge. It transpired that he had drawn out the excess amount (probably a couple of thousand pounds) and was carrying it around with him during the round! Presumably he paid it back in the next day, and got clean away with it. Harold was a great character and led a charmed life as far as the Bank regulations were concerned!
Carry on Working
by Jeanette Parkes
It was a typically busy Saturday morning at Weoley Castle branch, with queues of customers (mostly making withdrawals) at the tills of Brian Godwin and myself. We were the only two members of staff serving the customers, as the manager, Frank Hood, had gone to Selly Oak branch to borrow some cash we were rapidly running out. A depositor drew my attention to an incident that I had not noticed an elderly gentleman in my queue had collapsed, and was prone on the floor. Brian rang for an ambulance, but we carried on working. The ambulance soon arrived, as did Mr Hood, but it was too late for the customer he was dead.
A few years later, at Ward End branch, I was again continuing to serve customers with a prone body on the floor. However, this time the situation was not so tragic. The branchs junior clerk had fainted near my till, and I had to step over her to continue serving. Fortunately, she soon recovered.
Dont Shoot the Messenger!
by Michael Bourke
On joining BMB I was ordered by the Banks Deputy General Manager, the redoubtable Mr Fred Parsonage to Solihull Branch and had to report to the manager Mr W (Bill) Buxton. The only other members of staff were Miss M G M (Monica) Barton and Mrs D S (Dorothy) Ridout. After I had been there a few months, the government of the day issued one of the periodic amnesties regarding firearms and Dorothy Ridout mentioned that she possessed a firearm that was the property of her late husband. Bill Buxton prevailed upon her to hand it over to the police and she duly arrived next day at the branch with a 9mm Walther automatic plus a quantity of ammunition. Apparently, her husband had liberated it from a German officer during the last unpleasantness and had kept it as a souvenir. Her courage failed her when it came to presenting it to the local gendarmerie and I was ordered to take it into the police station.
To avoid me being arrested for carrying a firearm in public, the gun was wrapped up in one of the blue cash bags we used for holding copper coins. This was a welcome change for me because, as many will remember, the daily routine was posting deposits and payments to the ledgers, opening new accounts, entering and balancing cheques received and the entering and balancing of the gas, electric, water and rates (Birmingham only not Solihull Borough) paid over the counter. I duly presented myself at the local police station and presented the package for inspection. The desk sergeant (yes- they had one in those far off days) looked at the gun and then at me and requested me to follow him to an interview room. There he emptied the gun (I honestly did not know it was loaded) and wanted to know my name and address and where I had obtained the weapon. He clearly did not believe my story and I had visions of spending the next few years as an inmate of one of Her Majestys prisons. You could follow the sergeants line of thinking: when a young man (I was about eighteen years of age) with an Irish name presents a loaded gun with ammunition then, amnesty or not, he wants answers to a lot of questions.
After about 45 minutes, I finally managed to persuade him to ring Bill Buxton to corroborate my story and I was eventually released only to be admonished on my return by an irate bank manager for taking so long over a simple task and for not bringing back the precious blue bag. The junior always got the blame!
A collection of Short Memories from various members of the Banks staff