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Manning Index of South Australian History
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    South Australia - Banking and Finance


    Savings Bank of SA and Allied Matters

    For a history of banking and bank unionism in South Australia see
    G.H. & H.R. Manning, Worth Fighting For

    A proposal to form a Savings Bank is discussed in the Register,
    16 and 23 January 1841, pages 2d and 2c; also see
    13 February 1841, page 2f,
    10 April 1841, page 4d,
    15 May 1841, page 3b,
    11 September 1841, page 3b,
    12 February 1842, page 3a,
    13 September 1843, page 3a,
    13 March 1844, page 2c,
    15 May 1844, page 2e.

    Also see South Australian,
    11 November 1842, page 2b,
    9 December 1842, page 2c,
    7 and 14 March 1843, pages 2e and 2c,
    15 and 18 April 1845, pages 3b and 2e,
    6 June 1845, page 2d,
    2 and 19 March 1847, pages 4c and 4c.

    A robbery at the bank is reported in the Register,
    20 June 1849, page 3a; also see
    17 June 1910, page 6f.

    A complaint against some aspects of its operations is in the Register,
    23 September 1851, page 2b.

    Under the heading "The Savings Bank" the Register of 27 February 1854, page 2g says:

    A comment on its balance sheet is made in the Register,
    1 March 1856, page 2f and
    on its Act on
    3 December 1857, page 2h.

    Information on a proposed new office is in the Register,
    14 June 1859, page 3e; also see
    17 September 1860, page 3g,
    22 September 1860, page 4b.

    A farewell dinner to John Hector is reported in the Register,
    23 May 1861, page 2h.

    The opening of a bank agency at Port Adelaide is reported in the Register,
    30 January 1862, page 3f.

    A complaint about its hours of business is in the Register,
    13 August 1863, page 2h.

    "Savings Banks" is in the Chronicle,
    25 August 1866, page 4e; also see
    8 December 1866, page 2c.

    A proposal for "Penny Savings Banks at Public Schools" is in the Chronicle,
    26 September 1885, page 4d,
    11 August 1886, page 7g,
    11 June 1887, page 3e.
    School Banking is discussed in the Advertiser,
    5 February 1908, page 6h,
    19 June 1908, page 1g,
    2 March 1908, page 4f,
    3 October 1908, page 39d; also see
    23 February 1910, page 1h,
    12 September 1914, page 5e,
    22 April 1925, page 8f.
    A photograph is in the Chronicle,
    8 November 1934, page 38.

    Extensions of its facilities are discussed in the Register,
    8 December 1866, page 2c; also see
    19 February 1867, page 2d.

    "Savings Banks in Victoria and South Australia" is in the Observer,
    20 February 1869, page 12c.

    Statistical information is in the Observer,
    11 March 1871, page 5d,
    "Savings Bank Theories" on
    13 July 1872, page 13d.

    "The Savings Bank and the Government" is in the Advertiser,
    2 April 1874, page 2d.

    Proposed building extensions are discussed iun the Observer,
    4 July 1874, page 8b; also see
    6 November 1875, page 4f,
    6 November 1875, page 2g,
    13 November 1875, page 13f,
    15 January 1876, page 11a,
    15 January 1876, page 11a.

    A dispute with the Associated Banks is reported in the Observer,
    19 and 26 August 1876, pages 13g and 13d.

    Bank statistics are in the Observer,
    13 April 1878, page 19f.

    An editorial on thrift is in the Advertiser,
    27 July 1880, page 4e.

    "A Visit to the Savings Bank of SA" is in the Register,
    8 August 1885, page 6a; also see
    19 September 1885, page 4d,
    26 October 1885, page 7b.
    For a report of an interview with the Accountant and details of a "run" on the bank see
    14, 15 and 16 April 1886, pages 4h-6a, 6g and 5a:

    Also see Express,
    14, 15 and 19 April 1886, pages 5c-6a, 3d and 3c,
    26 October 1886, page 2b.
    Sketches of the "run" are in the Pictorial Australian in
    May 1886, page 69.

    Articles are in the Observer,
    12 March 1887, pages 24d-28c,
    18 March 1887, page 2c,
    13 April 1887, page 7g.

    An obituary of E.J. Hodgkinson is in the Observer,
    30 April 1887, page 30c,
    of H.H. Turton in the Register,
    20 June 1889, page 5a.

    Complaints about counter service are in the Advertiser,
    4, 9 and 14 February 1888, pages 6f, 7a and 7e; also see
    9 July 1889, page 7e and
    an editorial response on
    13 July 1889, page 4g.

    "Is the Savings Bank for the Poor?" is in the Register,
    17 and 19 July 1888, pages 7g and 4g,
    28 July 1888, page 28e; also see
    3 August 1888, pages 2d-4c.

    The need for a "small loan" facility is discussed in the Advertiser,
    8 and 22 January 1889, pages 4d and 6g.

    A cricket match, SBSA v National Bank, is reported in the Chronicle,
    22 February 1890, page 15b,
    10 February 1894, page 7b.

    "The Nationalisation of the Savings Bank and Its Present Relationship to the State" is in the Register,
    2 and 3 June 1893, pages 6f and 4g; also see
    5 August 1893, page 4f,
    14, 19, 20 and 23 November 1894, pages 6a, 7e, 7g and 7g,
    13 February 1895, page 6e,
    24 August 1896, page 4f,
    11 March 1898, pages 4f-5h,
    23 August 1899, page 6f,
    4 November 1903, page 4e,
    27 and 29 April 1904, pages 6e and 3g,
    10 May 1904, page 3d,
    2 June 1904, page 3g.

    The ramifications of The Credit Foncier Bill are discussed in the Observer,
    17 and 24 November 1894, pages 24c and 13e,
    14 and 29 November 1894, pages 4e and 4f.
    "The Savings Bank and the Credit Foncier" appears on
    17 September 1895, page 4f; also see
    2 and 4 October 1895, pages 4i and 5a.

    For controversy over proposed legislation in respect of State banking see Observer,
    20 July 1895, page 24e,
    3, 10 and 24 August 1895, pages 24c-28a, 24e and 15d,
    12, 18 and 20 July 1895, pages 5h, 4e and 7g-h,
    1, 2 and 6 August 1895, pages 4e-7c, 5a-7g and 6f,
    20 and 21 August 1895, pages 6a and 4e,
    12, 17 and 24 September 1895, pages 4e, 6h and 4h,
    2 and 21 October 1895, pages 4h and 4e; also see
    29 July 1895, page 6d,
    2, 6 and 20 August 1895, pages 4f, 5g and 5g.

    "The Savings Bank Valuators" is in the Advertiser,
    5 February 1894, page 6g; also see
    26 November 1894, page 7b.

    "The Government and the Savings Bank" is in the Advertiser,
    22 August 1895, page 7d,
    The Herald,
    7 February 1903, page 6b.

    "The Rescue of the Savings Bank" is in the Observer,
    5 and 19 October 1895, pages 24c and 42a.

    An obituary of C.C. Presgrave is in the Observer,
    6 March 1897, page 11c.

    Its jubilee is reported in the Advertiser,
    11 March 1898, page 4g,
    19 March 1898, page 41c; also see
    Weekly Herald,
    1 July 1898, page 8b.

    "The People's Bank" is in the Observer,
    26 August 1899, page 31d; also see
    7 November 1903, page 27e.

    A sketch of the proposed building in Currie Street appears in the Advertiser,
    17 February 1902, page 7.
    For its opening and allied matters see
    28 and 29 April 1904, pages 4c-5f and 5f; also see
    31 May 1928, page 5e.

    A photograph of the Currie Street building under construction is in the Chronicle,
    17 January 1903, page 44 and
    of the laying of the foundation stone on
    24 January 1903, page 42; also see
    24 January 1903, page 26; also see
    The Critic,
    4 May 1904, pages 12 and 13.

    Information on and controversy over the use of interstate stone for the erection of its new building is detailed in the Register,
    16, 17, 18, 19, 23 and 25 July 1902, pages 5d, 4d-5d, 6e, 8f, 3h and 3f,
    2, 6 and 8 August 1902, pages 6f, 3e and 4f-7i.
    Also see Observer,
    24 January 1903, pages 26-41,
    12, 15 and 16 January 1903, pages 7i, 6e and 4c-6f,
    31 May 1928, page 5e.

    The introduction of home savings boxes is discussed in the Register,
    9 August 1906, page 4e,
    23 March 1908, page 5f,
    4 August 1927, page 13c.
    "The Lost Passbooks" is the subject for comment in the Advertiser,
    13 October 1906, page 6f.

    "Save the Pence" is in the Observer, 28 March 1908, page 46e.

    "A Novel Way to Encourage Thrift" (pay envelopes) is reported upon in the Advertiser,
    25 June 1909, page 6e.

    "The Latest Time Saver", a report on an "aerial mechanical device" is in the Advertiser,
    25 July 1910, page 6e,
    9 August 1910, page 6e.

    A meeting of savings bank managers is reported in the Express,
    18 October 1910, page 4d.

    Finance matters are discussed in the Register,
    9 August 1910, page 6e,
    20 October 1910, page 8i,
    "A Historical Sketch" appears on
    22 October 1910, page 8c (includes photographs).

    See Register,
    19 and 20 May 1911, pages 4d and 15d for the bank's involvement in a court case and
    4 October 1911, page 7b and
    11 June 1912, page 7f for comment on its gold reserve.

    A comment on Commonwealth legislation is in the Observer,
    9 December 1911, page 46a,
    22 December 1911, page 7d,
    "The Savings Bank and the Commonwealth" is in the Register on
    3 February 1912, page 14e; also see
    20 September 1912, page 8d,
    11 January 1913, page 3 (advt.).

    "Robbery at the Bank - Woman's Bag Snatched" is in the Register,
    2 March 1912, page 13i,
    9 March 1912, page 40e.

    The closure of Post Office agencies is reported in the Advertiser,
    28 June 1912, page 8e.

    "Savings Bank Bill" is in the Register,
    24 September 1912, page 6c.

    A photograph of a cricket team is in The Critic,
    1 January 1913, page 15.

    Its 65th anniversary is celebrated in the Register,
    8 March 1913, page 11d.

    The opening of a branch in Rundle Street in temporary premises is reported in the Register,
    26 January 1914, page 6g; also see
    2 March 1915, page 8e.

    Further information on the operations of the Bank is to be found in the Register, 7 (first reported defalcation) and 13 April 1914, pages 9d and 6e.

    "Savings Bank Trustees - Question of Patriotism" is discussed in the Register,
    12 and 14 November 1914, pages 4h and 12c.
    Also see G.H. & H.R. Manning, Worth Fighting For, pages 52-53 for an example of the Board's subterfuge when, in respect of members of the Bank's staff enlisting for war service, primary evidence suggests they were guilty of acting in an underhand manner.

    An Essay on the Savings Bank of SA

    (Taken from G.H & H.R. Manning, Worth Fighting For, pp.49-64)

    Under the direction of a Board of Trustees, the Savings Bank of South Australia (SBSA) opened its doors on 11 March 1848 when the colonial government vested them with total power over all aspects of the bank's operations. While clearly showing compassion at times, the trustees also acted, on occasions, with paternalism and lack of empathy with their employees' struggles to improve their living standards...

    In the early 20th century the lot of probationary clerks was subject to the whims and fancies of their superiors. Take, for example, one youth who was appointed to a northern branch in 1907. At the end of his three month' probationary period a bank inspector reported with a mixture of praise and great concern on the clerk's adolescent habits:

    Following this extension of time the same inspector reported:

    Upon receiving the news of her son's alleged transgression against the bank's prevailing moral and social code, his widowed mother requested a further opportunity be given to him. He was subsequently transferred to Adelaide, finally retiring in the late 1950s as the manager of a large suburban branch.

    During World War I, employees volunteering for the armed services wished to have the guarantee that, upon their return, the bank would reemploy them and count their years of active service toward determining increments which should have otherwise occurred had they staid at home. The trustees did not share this view and in a letter to a young officer advised that they had resolved unanimously that:

    While no documentary evidence exists it is nevertheless apparent that the officer concerned sought an interview with the Premier, A.H. Peake, who attempted to clarify the matter with the trustees:

    The Board of Trustees hastily reconsidered their prior decision and, in a face-saving gesture, changed the previous policy to one that reads in part:

    In their subsequent reply to the Premier the trustees concluded by proclaiming their loyalty - "You may be assured of the hearty cooperation of the Board in this matter, which we recognise is of great national importance." No mention was made of their original position, and one wonders as to the reaction if one or more ot their employees had been found guilty of similar subterfuge in their day to day dealings with either the bank's depositors or their superiors in the bank.

    The war years imposed harsh economic burdens upon many people. Prices rose by 80 per cent, while wages increased by an average of 35 per cent. This factor, coupled with labour shortages, tended to intensify industrial unrest.

    By 1916 the junior clerical staff of the SBSA, who were historically quite servile to the Board of Trustees, became so dissatisfied with their declining real wages they organised a protest, when they requested the trustees to consider "some remuneration extra to our salaries, to assist us through what is proving to be a difficult period."

    In support of their petition the staff pointed out that all banks operating in Adelaide, and other business houses, had paid bonuses ranging from 4 to 10 per cent. The manager supported the clerks' argument and, furthermore, informed the trustees that the bank's more senior officers were in accord with the submission.

    On 6 September 1916 the trustees responded and declared they were unmoved by the claim and, in particular, its desire to gain salary parity with the trading banks:

    The manager remained unconvinced by this reply, for he subsequently reported to the Trustees that the Bank of Australasia paid a 10 per cent bonus on monthly salaries, the ES&A Bank granted a yearly 10 per cent bonus, as did the Bank of NSW. While other banks granted smaller bonuses the SBSA was the exception.

    Faced with this damning evidence the trustees, on 21 September 1917, announced that a bonus ranging from 5 to 7 per cent would be paid, However, in view of the more generous payments made by the majority of other banks, their decision did little to seal the rift which was gradually widening between staff and management.

    By November 1918 relations between a disgruntled staff and the parsimonious trustees were almost at a breaking point. Tired of airing their grievances individually permanent officers met and and duly appointed a committee and, following discussions with that body, the manager reported to the trustees that officers were convinced that their claim was just and cited in support the fact that the price of food and grocery prices had increased by 23 per cent since 1914 and by 8 per cent during the preceding six months.

    Furthermore, the committee demonstrated, using the Commonwealth statistician's figures that since 1905 "a continual and steady decrease in the purchasing power of money had taken place..." As a consequence, the manager felt compelled to support the staff's claims...

    The trustees were unmoved and informed the staff that the normal end of year bonus would be paid "on the same basis as last year." This miserly response did little to improve relations and, as may be surmised, did a great deal to cement in many employees' minds that some form of union association and a registered award were imperative if their living standards were to improve.

    General Notes

    The unveiling of the World War I "Roll of Honour" is reported in the Register,
    15 January 1916, page 10c.

    "The Seventieth Anniversary" is in the Advertiser,
    12 March 1918, page 4h.

    "Commonwealth Encroachment" is in the Register,
    1 February 1919, page 9c.

    "Pence and Passbooks - Fifty Years With SBSA" is in the Register,
    17 January 1919, page 6h; also see
    18 March 1919, page 6b.

    The reminiscences of Mr W.B. Poole, the retiring Manager, are in the Advertiser,
    15 March 1919, page 9c;
    his obituary is in the Register,
    16 January 1926, page 14f.

    A proposed amalgamation of Federal and State savings banks is discussed in the Register,
    25, 27, 29 and 31 January 1919, pages 9a, 4c, 3g and 6b,
    1 February 1919, page 9c,
    24 March 1919, page 4c.
    Its 75th anniversary is reported on
    10 March 1923, page 12c; also see
    8 March 1923, page 3b.

    "The Peoples' Banker - Mr H.M. Mudie's Proud Record" is in The Mail,
    10 March 1923, page 2d.

    "The Savings Bank and its Staff" is in the Register,
    5, 8, 13, 17 and 18 November 1924, pages 10e, 10g, 10b, 8g and 10e; also see
    13 November 1924, page 8g.

    "Counting the Sovereigns" is in the Register,
    30 June 1926, page 9f,
    "Funds Now 20,000,000 Pounds" on
    16 October 1926, page 7c,
    "Labour and Savings Bank" on
    17 February 1927, page 8e; also see
    1 December 1931, page 8f.

    Biographical details of Mr A.G. Glastonbury are in The News,
    19 January 1927, page 13e and
    of Walter Angel on
    18 April 1929, page 21e;
    a photograph is in the Observer,
    21 August 1926, page 32.

    "Savings Bank Scholarships" is in the Advertiser,
    29 April 1927, page 12i.

    A staff picnic at Belair is reported in the Advertiser,
    23 April 1928, page 6h.

    Historical information on bank agencies and competition with the Commonwealth Bank is in The News,
    27 August 1928, page 4d.

    The introduction of special purpose accounts is discussed in the Advertiser,
    20 October 1928, page 16g,
    7 January 1929, page 24e.

    Information on Mr C.E. Goldsmith is in The News,
    6 February 1929, page 13f.

    A "Thrift Shield Competition" is discussed in the Advertiser,
    6 August 1929, page 6c.

    "Bank Accounts for Centenary Babies" is in the Advertiser,
    27 August 1936, page 10e.

    A robbery at Brighton branch is reported in the Advertiser,
    18 February 1937, page 19c.

    An industrial history of the bank is to be found in G.H. and H.R. Manning, Worth Fighting For.

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