Neville Chamberlain Centenary
by Stanley Guy
Writing in the Bank's staff magazine, Stanley Guy recalls two functions that he attended as the Bank's General Manager (together with the Bank's Chairman, Councillor Martineau) that commemorated the centenary of the birth of the Bank's founder: March 18th 1869.
It has been my privilege recently to attend two functions in commemoration of the centenary of the birth of Neville Chamberlain. The first function was a luncheon in the Harcourt Room overlooking the Terrace of the House of Commons, to which both the Chairman of the Bank Committee and myself were invited. About 100 guests were present and the luncheon, which was quite a simple meal, was presided over by the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Rt Hon Dr Horace King, and speeches outlining the life and achievements of Neville Chamberlain were made by the Rt Hon Edward Heath, MP, and the Rt Hon Anthony Greenwood, MP. The highlight of the luncheon, however, was a most excellent response to these speeches by Mrs Dorothy Lloyd who, as most people know, is the daughter of Neville Chamberlain.
The other function, of a more formal nature, was also attended by the Chairman and myself and was the commemorative dinner given by the Lord Mayor (Alderman Charles V G Simpson, JP) in the Council House on the 24th March 1969. About 200 guests were present and the main speaker was Professor Douglas Johnson, BA, B.Litt, former Professor of History in the University of Birmingham and now of University College, London. His speech was an assessment of the political life of Neville Chamberlain whose son-in-law, Alderman Stephen Lloyd, responded.
It is interesting to note that the menu card was printed in blue and red, which were the colours of the first election poster on which Neville Chamberlain's name appeared. The card had four pictures, being respectively the Town Hall, the old University Buildings in Edmund Street, Highbury Hall where Neville Chamberlain lived and, of course, the Head Office of the Municipal Bank.
Neville Chamberlain was also instrumental in the formation of the City of Birmingham Orchestra and the finale of Mozart's Serenata Notturna was played after the Dinner by members of the Orchestra as a tribute to his memory.
As members of the Staff will be aware, Neville Chamberlain, apart from being recognised as the Founder of the Bank, took an active part in its history as the following record indicates -
Member of Bank Committee 1919 - 1922 (as a non-Council Member).
Resigned when appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1923.
Re-appointed to Bank Committee in 1924 (following a change in Government).
Resigned from Committee when appointed Minister of Health (later in 1924).
First Head Office at 6/8 Edmund Street opened by Neville Chamberlain 6th July 1925.
First permanent Branch of the Bank opened at Sparkbrook by Neville Chamberlain 25th July 1921.
He attended the opening of the Duddeston Branch on the 17th March 1923 by the Lady Mayoress, Mrs David Davis.
Rotton Park Branch opened by Neville Chamberlain 16th June 1923.
He also attended the opening of Ladywood Branch on the 14th June 1924 by the Lady Mayoress, Miss Williams.
Neville Chamberlain laid the foundation stone of Bank's Head Offices in Broad Street on October 22nd 1932 and was present
at the official opening by HRH The Prince George on November 27th 1933.
It is a happy coincidence that in 1969, the Jubilee Year of the Bank, that celebrations should also be held to mark the centenary of the birth of its Founder.
(NOTE: this article first appeared in the Spring 1969 edition of CONTACT magazine,)