Birmingham’s Hidden Spaces reveals Municipal Bank drawings

Author: Stacey BarnfieldPublished:

A fascinating insight into Birmingham’s civic history has been discovered as part of the Hidden Spaces project.

The original planning application and hand-drawn blueprints for the Municipal Bank building on Broad Street have been found in the archives of the Library of Birmingham.

The Grade II listed Municipal Bank and its underground vaults quickly became one of the most popular buildings in the Hidden Spaces project, a scheme I was delighted to be a part of during my time as editor of the Birmingham Post.

Section AA of the Municipal Bank

Section AA of the Municipal Bank

Plans for the basement and ground floor areas

Plans for the basement and ground floor areas

The documents were discovered by Steve Townsend of Associated Architects – a man described as the city’s very own Indiana Jones of architecture – with the help of Library of Birmingham archivists who manage the excellent Iron Room blog.

Writing on the Hidden Spaces website Steve said: “A few months back we took a trip to the Library of Birmingham’s Archives, Heritage and Photography Centre, where we scoured the archives for the original architect’s drawings for the Birmingham Municipal Bank headquarters on Broad Street.

The original planning application for the Municipal Bank building

The original planning application for the Municipal Bank building

“With help from the amazing staff in the Wolfson Centre we were thrilled to locate the original planning application drawings by architect Thomas Cecil Howitt, submitted on 2 December 1931.”

The Municipal Bank is a remarkable reminder of Birmingham’s financial and corporate might, designed by Thomas Cecil Howitt, the architect of the nearby and equally grand Baskerville House.

Interior walls are adorned with salient messages such as ‘thrift radiates happiness’ and ‘saving is the mother of riches’.

'Saving is the mother of riches', inside the Municipal Bank

‘Saving is the mother of riches’, inside the Municipal Bank

It was first set up after the First World War as a savings bank for the citizens of Birmingham by Neville Chamberlain, the Lord Mayor of the city at the time.

On October 22, 1932, the foundation stone was laid, and the building was opened by HRH Prince George on November 27 1933.

The important building will be at the heart of the vast Arena Central regeneration scheme and the new headquarters for HSBC’s UK operations, a move that plays perfectly into the story of the city’s banking and financial heritage.

Images reproduced by Birmingham’s Hidden Spaces with permission from Library of Birmingham