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Birmingham & District Bank


Birmingham District & Counties Banking Co Ltd

Roger Outing


As the summary to the right shows, the correct name for a bank depends upon what part of its history you are dealing with.  Our interest in this article is confined to the Birmingham District & County Banking Co Ltd.  However, it is worth noting the three earlier titles of the bank which trace the history back to 1836 and the early origins of joint stock banking. Equally important is the 1907 transformation into the United Counties Bank Ltd which in turn leads to the eventual amalgamation with Barclays Bank Ltd in 1916.

As often occurs with a bank that has a sequence of name changes the important cheque variety to look for will be an overprint that marks the transition from one title to another.  Fig. 1 shows a cheque of 1889 originally from the Birmingham Dudley & District Banking Company Ltd that has been overprinted in red with “The Birmingham District & Counties Banking Co Ltd.” This is the start of our story.

This first cheque has a stamp duty date of 2nd March 1889 and, of great interest, a list of 31 branches (including the Birmingham Head Office) in three panels at the left. It should be particularly noted that the blue security panel has a micro print of “The Birmingham Dudley & District Banking Company Limited” which is the old bank name.  The watermark also uses the old bank name.

Shown at Fig. 2  is the first progression which is the same cheque design but with the new bank name being used without any overprint.  The stamp duty date is 15th August 1889 so the previous overprinted type was only in use for six months or so.  The micro print in the security panel and the water-mark still consists of the old bank name so both bank titles are still on the cheque provided you know where to look.  The branch list at the left is unchanged.

Fig. 3 shows an 1889 cheque from Shrewsbury, that looks very much like the previous example, but there are some important changes to be noted in the details. Firstly the micro printing in the security panel and the watermark now contain the new bank name of “Birmingham District & Counties Banking Co Ltd”.  The old bank name can no longer be found on this cheque. The new bank name has been added to the shield emblem at centre left and there are now three shields shown instead of  the previous two shields. Also the branch list, within panels at the left, has been extended to list 34 branches, with Bishop’s Castle, Oldbury and Walsall being added.

The stamp duty date on this cheque is 18th October 1889 which suggests that the immediately preceding type dated August 1889 was only in use for some two months or so.     

Fig. 4 shows an 1894 unused cheque from Kidderminster and the principal change is that the branch list to the left is now within a single panel and now lists 43 branches and sub-branches.  An important point of detail is the London Agents shown in the bottom margin is now “William, Deacons & Manchester & Salford Bank Ltd” to replace the earlier “Messrs Williams, Deacons & Co” that had been used.  This cheque type has been confirmed in use until at least May 1900.

In 1902 there was a basic change in design and colour for the Birmingham District & Counties Banking Co Ltd.  Fig. 5 above shows the new style green cheque with bank name and three shields within a circle at the left.  The earliest stamp duty date seen on this type is August 1902 and anything earlier than that would be a useful find.  The name of the London Agent in the bottom margin changes to “Williams Deacons Bank Limited”.

Fig. 6 shows the final cheque for this particular bank title which has a stamp duty date of 26th February 1907 and is overprinted with the new bank name “United Counties Bank Limited” in black.  Like many transitional overprinted cheques these would have been in use for a short period of time, probably no more than a few months.

This basic design was then made use of by the United Counties Bank with the additional of a fourth shield within the circle at the left.

This short series of six cheques demonstrates both the amalgamation process and the development of the branch network.  And all you have to do now is find the cheques!

Roger Outing
Created 16th May 2012


Summary of Bank Titles

Birmingham Town & District Banking Co 1836 to 1874
Birmingham, Dudley & District Banking Co 1874 to 1881
Birmingham, Dudley & District Banking Co Ltd 1881 to 1889
Birmingham District & Counties Banking Co Ltd
                                                               1889 to 1907

United Counties Bank Ltd from 1907 to 1916
Taken over by Barclay & Co Ltd in 1916

Birmingham District & Counties Banking Co Ltd
Fig. 1 Birmingham, Dudley & District Bank, 1889. Overprinted in red with new bank title.
Fig. 2. Birmingham, District & Counties Bank, 1889. Micro-print background and watermark in old bank name.
Fig. 3. Birmingham District & Counties Bank, 1889. 3 shields and micro-print + watermark in new bank title.
Fig. 4. Birmingham District & Counties Bank, 1894. Branch list at left now in a single panel.
Fig. 5. Birmingham District & Counties Bank, 1902. New design and colour.
Fig. 6. Birmingham District & Counties Bank, 1907. Now overprinted with "United Counties Bank Ltd".

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