On one quiet Saturday afternoon in March 1973, there was a disturbance in Bearwood, or more accurately 'Over Bearwood'.
Miss Janet O'Flaherty (a member of staff), was working in the flat above Bearwood branch, where she had recently taken over the tenancy, and was involved in removing a fireplace with the help of some friends. As anyone who has ever removed a fireplace will know, this process involves quite a large amount of work and noise, what with the use of pickaxes, shovels, and the addition of much grunting.
The work was almost completed when Janet decided to make a cup of tea, and looking out of the kitchen window spotted some police cars across the road, but paid little attention to them as the police often performed spot checks along that stretch of road. However, glancing out of the window again, she saw that the front of the branch was surrounded by ten policemen, who attracted her attention and beckoned her to come down to ground level.
As Janet walked along the hall towards the stairs, she looked out over the back of the branch to see that climbing over the wall there were (you've guessed it) more policemen in blue surging (or was it 'sergeing') into the yard.
When Janet opened the door of her flat to the police at the front, she was told that an elderly lady had stepped off the bus nearby and heard a disturbance in the flat above the branch. Immediately, the lady had telephoned the police stating that someone was trying to break into the bank using drills and pickaxes, and accordingly the police had come to investigate.
All that the police now required from Janet, after establishing that a break-in was not being perpetrated, was some proof of identification.
However, this requirement presented a problem, as Janet had absolutely nothing to prove who she was. With the roads around the branch now cluttered with ten police cars, two police Land Rovers, two police motorbikes, some police dogs, and numerous police officers awaiting her response, Janet began by informing them that the key holders for the branch were the manager Dan Crowley and his assistant Graham Capener, and that they would be able to confirm her identity.
Attempts to contact Dan and Graham proved futile, as also did an attempt to contact Michael Davenport, the manager of Bartley Green branch. At that moment, Janet's fiancé Keith Richmond arrived, returning from Maurice Eley's house, where he had been doing some work. Keith was detained with Janet as the police contacted Maurice (the manager of Quinton branch) and branch inspector Frank Hood. Finally, the police were satisfied, and drove off in a convoy.
Janet and Keith were left to complete their fireplace demolition job and to reflect on the need to have suitable forms of identity when making noises that resemble an attempt to break into a bank, or to ensure that such work is only undertaken when various senior bank officials are standing by their phones, and just in case, to have plenty of cups and saucers available to make the boys in blue a cup of tea should some passing old lady call them out!
The following item also appeared in the Summer 1973 edition of CONTACT:
On June 2nd at St Mary's Church, Selly Oak, Janet O'Flaherty became Mrs Keith Richmond. Janet wore a long white dress of lightweight satin, with peplum waist and full-length train. The bodice was decorated with lace. She carried a bouquet of freesias and red roses.
Janet was attended by two bridesmaids and two page boys. The bridesmaids, Valerie Lamb of Smethwick branch and Karen Kavanagh of Kingstanding Reserves, wore long empire line dresses of burgundy trimmed with white. They wore white hats trimmed with flowers and carried white balls of chrysanthemums. The reception was held at Shenley Manor Hall and they are now settling down in their home in Bearwood.
Bother Over Bearwood
This Memory is adapted from a report that appeared in the
Summer 1973 edition of the Bank’s staff magazine