As a prospective Banker of the ripe old age of 18 years I had been engaged as what was then known as a "Night Clerk" (this was quite respectable) and had been told I was to go to the Acocks Green Branch.
I arrived at Head Office (part of the Basement Offices of the Water Department) at 5pm, on 1st September 1919, and, despite the fact that I had been working on the transfer of the accounts from the old Corporation Savings Bank since May, I found the office full of strangers. I was told I was to go with Mr Kesterton, the Manager, to open Acocks Green Branch, and being young and innocent I did not realise what this meant until about an hour later. However, there was no time to reflect, as someone shouted Acocks Green", and Mr Kesterton and I set off in a taxi with the ledger, signature book, cash book and a waste paper basket full of forms and odds and ends.
We arrived at the premises, the old Worcestershire Police Station in the Village, near the School, and Mr Kesterton paid off the taxi. I stood on the pavement clutching the waste paper basket, and we stared at each other. Eventually remembering that I had been told we were to open the Branch, I broke the silence by saying, quite brightly, I thought, "Have you got the keys". Mr Kesterton's reply shook me pretty badly when he said "Ellison didn't say anything to me about keys". We tried the door. It was locked. We tried the yellow painted windows and one moved. Together we heaved, the window opened, and I climbed through. The door of the room was locked, but a search revealed a rusty screwdriver in a cupboard, and the lock was soon removed. Now I was in a corridor with prison cells on one side and another locked door. Off came the lock of the door, and Mr Kesterton walked in (time 6:10pm). He drew my attention to a tear in my trousers and generously provided a safety pin.
The premises were illuminated by one gas jet - we had five transactions that evening - one new account for £120 - big money in those days.
At the close of business we locked the Safe, the Manager retired through the doors, I screwed on the locks, put out the gas and climbed through the window into the waiting arms of Mr Kesterton.
The burglar Bankers pulled down the window, their evenings work was done.
Opening a Branch Bank in 1919
by Frank Whitehouse
Frank Whitehouse submitted some recollections of his career with the Bank as part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations in 1969 (see Memory 022). One of those recollections related to the Bank's first day of operations on September 1st 1919. In 1955, he had given more details of that day in an article written for the staff's News Letter, and his memories of that first day are reproduced below.