The Exchange: a history in banking

This beautiful example of monumental municipal masonry was originally a bank, built in 1933 as the headquarters of the City Council’s Savings bank.

The bank was established in 1916 by Neville Chamberlain, an active member of the University’s Court and the son of its first Chancellor, Joseph. The Birmingham Municipal Bank was the first of its kind, built to encourage working people to save during the first world war whilst also providing funds for the war effort. Prior to this saving was not a common occurrence in the working class, nor was having a bank account. The scheme was highly successful, by 1938 over a third of Birmingham’s population had a bank account.

After many years of serving the people of Birmingham, the bank closed its doors in 1998. As time passed the building fell into disrepair, until in 2017 the University of Birmingham purchased the building from the Birmingham City Council, refurbishing it as a venue for events, a gallery and a coffee shop.

There are a few tell tail signs of the building’s original purpose still visible, with ‘Saving is the mother of riches’ and ‘Thrift radiates happiness’ etched into the walls of the main lobby. The original safety deposit boxes are also still present in the exhibition space, giving a unique and quirky nod to the past.

UKFin+ will be launching in this historic building on July 4th 2023. A fitting building for a fintech network promoting financial inclusion and equality, tackling wicked problems in financial services.


The Opening of The Exchange takes Birmingham Back to the Future

Behind The Build: The Exchange at the University of Birmingham

‘Thrift Radiates Happiness’: Birmingham’s unique Municipal Bank