Lady Branch Managers


In the early years of the Second World War, the calling up of male staff for service with the armed forces created staffing problems. One of the answers to those problems was the employment of more female staff, including relaxation of the pre-War rule regarding married women. To assist with alleviating the problem, ladies were no longer required to resign on getting married, and married women were able to be recruited.

As the War progressed, the maximum age of men to be called up was gradually increased. In late 1941, the General Manager was notified that the latest date for call up of men between the ages of 30 and 35 was February 28th 1942, in accordance with arrangements made for the banking industry. This tranche of staff consisted of 37 officers of which 23 were Branch Managers or acting Branch Managers.

In a Report of the Bank's Finance and General Purposes Sub-Committee dated December 15th 1941, the question of appointing female officers to fill vacant managerial posts and the payment of additional remuneration was considered. Also debated, was the need to establish what arrangements for supervision and advice should be provided to enable the ladies acting as Branch Managers to carry out their duties satisfactorily and with confidence.

The Committee decided that women officers on the permanent staff, acting as Branch Managers, would receive their basic salary and war bonus, plus a special allowance of 1 per week. It was also agreed that special inclusive terms should be arranged for ex-women officers occupying similar posts. The total remuneration for these officers varied from 234 to 348 per annum.

At a further meeting of the Bank's Finance and General Purposes Sub-Committee, on July 20th 1942, it was reported that 'the women who have been selected for this work are discharging their duties satisfactorily, and as they are in charge of the largest branches of the Bank for which the remuneration to a male manager would be 491 per annum, it is felt that the present remuneration to women managers is not sufficient'. Accordingly, the Sub-Committee recommended the following:

Permanent Staff: the allowance of 1 per week to be increased to 1.10.0d in the cases of Misses Wilkins; Roberts; Hastings; Pogson; Lomas; Bond; C Johnson; Neale; A C Brown; Wright; Jones; Searle; Hilton; and Mrs Winfield. Allowance of 10/- per week to Miss Gregory to be increased to 1

Temporary Staff: that inclusive remuneration be paid as follows:

Mesdames Baker and Robottom ......................... 6.0.0d per week

Mesdames Brindley, Giddings, and Dawson ..... 5.15.0d per week

Following the conclusion of the War, the Bank wished to promote three ladies to the positions of permanent Branch Managers. At this date (July 1946) it was a requirement of Birmingham Corporation that the City's Salaries, Wages and Labour Committee provide confirmation 'in certain cases of promotion'. That committee had no objection to the Bank's proposal, and the following ladies were appointed Branch Managers:

Miss Elsie Bullock

Miss Dorothy I Gregory

Miss Norah K Pogson

All three ladies had completed Part 1 of the examinations of the Institute of Bankers in 1929.

The three ladies held their positions of Branch Managers for some years after the War. In 1958, they were in charge of Ladywood (Miss Pogson); Quinton (Miss Bullock); and Smethwick (Miss Gregory). Miss Gregory was the last of the three ladies to retire, as detailed in a circular to All Members of Staff on October 29th 1962.

A similar circular was issued on the retirement of Miss Bullock in July 1958. This stated that 'Elsie Bullock joined the staff of the Birmingham Corporation Savings Bank in 1918, and was responsible for much hard work, under the direction of the late Mr J P Hilton, in preparing the opening of the Birmingham Municipal Bank on September 1st, 1919, and contributed to its present success. During the War she was appointed a Branch Manageress, the inevitable reward of such devoted and efficient service. Her gentle personality, sense of humour and gift of understanding have been an example to many.'

Miss Pogson joined the Bank's staff in 1922; she died in August 1961, while still a member of staff.

The post-war appointment of three unqualified ladies as permanent Branch Managers was a controversial decision by the Bank's Committee of Management, as illustrated by correspondence between the Staff Committee and the General Manager.