My Nineteen Year Banking Career
by Barry Hicks
I joined The Birmingham Municipal Bank in 1974 after leaving school and spending a few months at a teacher training college on the south coast. Having decided that teaching was not the career for me, I was introduced to ‘The Municipal’ by Harry Calver (who I was to find later, wrote a very popular series of articles in the Bank's staff magazine under the penname REVLAC) who was a Group Manager based at Northfield branch at that time. I had played bowls with Harry at The Olde House At Home bowling club for many years and was also a friend of his son Chris. I suppose with an introduction from Harry my application for a job was unlikely to have been turned down!
After taking the ‘Oath of Secrecy’ at Head Office in Broad Street under the watchful eye of ‘Dolly’ Gardner, I caught the bus to my first branch, Selly Oak. The manager was William ‘Bill’ Porritt a very stern chap and hard taskmaster. I recall that other staff at Selly Oak were Ron Cridge, his future wife Lynda, and Barry Coleman who was a very keen union representative.
Living in Harborne and then West Heath after getting married, I tended to work branches mainly to the south of the city centre. As time progressed I worked further afield and had two secondments, one to a new training department based at Stanier House in Birmingham city centre under the auspices of Maurice Randall, and the other to TSB Group Central Executive based in Serck House in Solihull where I assisted with the implementation of the Youth Training Scheme (YTS) – an on-the-job training scheme for school leavers. My role in YTS required me to run training courses in England and Scotland and also to participate in a number of outdoor development courses with the trainees.
After my YTS involvement came to an end I returned to the branch banking network.
My 19 year banking career saw a number of changes in my employer: the Birmingham Municipal Bank from 1974 to 1976; the Birmingham Municipal TSB from 1976 to 1979; the TSB of Birmingham & The Midlands from 1979 to 1983; and then TSB of England & Wales from 1983 to 1993. There are many names that I recall from those 19 years that I worked at the Bank, just a few of them were:
John Ward – in 1974, when the Bank amended its branch network to include sub-branches, John was manager of the prestigious City branch in Martineau Square. City was part of the Head Office group of branches that included City and Horse Fair branches, with Norman Goddard the Group Manager. Horse Fair was a sub-branch to City branch with John Hall the clerk-in-charge at Horse Fair where I worked. I worked with John at a number of branches but the one that stands out is Horse Fair. So many tales to tell! John also took charge of a Coventry branch at the same time as myself and we left the bank at the same time. I think John went into insurance sales. Another clerk-in-charge at the Head Office group was Jean Nicholls who was based at City branch.
Malcolm Smith – a keen rambler as I recall. I worked with him at Alum Rock.
Bryan Haycox – I was sad to learn that Bryan had passed away. We worked together at Willenhall and when he was first posted to the branch we worked together on a Sunday to get the branch organised to his standard! Another keen rambler.
Mike Davenport and Richard Mann – two more very keen ramblers, both very active with the Bank’s Rambling Club, and both lovely chaps to work with. In 1974, they were both on the staff of the Northfield Group and I worked with them at Bartley Green and West Heath branches.
John Hollands – manager of the very large branch at The Bridge, Walsall, which became part of the network when the Bank amalgamated with TSB of the Midlands to become TSB of Birmingham & The Midlands. John had joined the Bank in about 1980 to take charge of Commercial Lending. The Bridge was my first posting as an assistant manager.
Maurice Randall – head of the Training Department at Stanier House who was brought in from Severn Trent Water. The Training Department was part of the 1979 setup for the TSB of Birmingham & The Midlands when the Head Office Administration was split between locations in Broad Street (Finance), Alpha Tower (Operations, Personnel, and Services) and Stanier House (Training). Steve White and his future wife Terri also worked in the Training Department, as did Betty Steele, who worked in admin at Stanier House.
Phillip Horsfall – we worked together at Horse Fair branch and then at Alum Rock. I think Phillip eventually moved and worked in the computer centre in Wythenshawe.
I was eventually promoted as manager to Stoke branch in Coventry where I stayed for about two years before, like at lot of others at this time, taking voluntary redundancy in 1993.
By this time my wife Hazel and our two children had moved to a new house just outside Cannock in Staffordshire. After a short time of reflection we decided to set up our own business which we ran for about 25 years before we retired a couple of years ago when I reached the age of 65. Our son-in-law took over our business and we still assist him by offering our advice when requested and a little bit of admin support.