The bank is situated on the west side of the Bull Ring on a tight triangular site bordered by Gospel End Street and Ettymore Road. In the late C19th the land, which belonged to the Earl of Dudley, was described as containing three cottages, a barn, nail shop, garden and a disused malt house, and in 1897 was occupied by a George Bradley and his under-tenants. In December 1897 the freehold then passed to the trustees of the late Richard Homer and around the turn of the century the Homer family built a new hall for the temperance movement on part of the land. A few years later, on October 9th 1907, John Twigg Homer sold the freehold to the United Counties Bank Limited.
This bank, under the name of the Birmingham District and Counties Bank, had opened a branch somewhere in Dudley Road on March 27th 1899. The move to the newly built bank at 9 Bull Ring took place in 1909. The manager, William Greenhill, was treasurer to Sedgley & Coseley Urban District Councils.
In 1916 a banking amalgamation saw Barclays Bank Limited acquire the United Counties Bank premises at the 1909 value of £2,393-11-7. There were three members of staff – J. S. Hilton, Clerk in Charge and an employee since 1899, E. T. Whitworth and H. G. Hill. Respectively, their ages and annual earning were – 42 years, £220pa, 18 years, £45pa, and 19 years, £40pa. It is likely the two youngsters were relief staff covering for those on military service in the First World War.
In 1940 Barclays house magazine, ‘The Spread Eagle’, reported James A. Wright’s retirement as Manager and H.J. Jones’s promotion to the post after being Chief Clerk at Sedgley for fifteen years.
Since the Second World War the branch has been extended and regularly refurbished to meet the banking demands of the area, yet it’s outward appearance onto the Bull Ring is almost unaltered. In 1983 a major initiative saw more alterations and a new management suite [no longer in existence] opened at 29 Dudley Street. Tony Davies was Branch Manager at this time.
The top photograph, circa 1920, shows steps leading into the bank while the early 1960s winter scene shows the branch with a quite recently added extension. Note the supporting columns and wires that carried the overhead power supply for the trolley bus era – 1927 to 1967. The latest views, taken in February 2004, show a further extension from the 1980s and emphasize how pavement and road levels have risen over the years.
[Additional material provided by the Group Archives Unit of Barclays Bank PLC and black & white photographs © Barclays Bank PLC]