Savings Bank of Glasgow

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The Savings Bank of Glasgow was founded in 1836, part of a national self-help movement (originating in Dumfriesshire in 1810) 'to encourage thrift among the poor', which was enormously successful. 1 In the 1830s and 1840s, large commercial banks which issued banknotes 'would not normally accept less than £10' deposits – possibly several months' wages for a modest earner. 2 Unlike the business-investment banks, the Savings Bank of Glasgow did not issue paper currency, but was intended to facilitate 'the small investor', and accepted 'deposits from one shilling' upwards. 3

This Savings Bank could invest in 'local school boards ... municipal water and gas', funding essential public infrastructure, without risky speculation. 4 'By 1870 the Bank had become the largest ... savings bank' in Scotland. 5 William Meikle, from 1848 to 1895 their 'outstanding' actuary, opened 'offices in every major area' of Glasgow, to be convenient for working-class customers. 6 As much a social service as a highly principled bank, they avoided the ruination suffered by the corrupt City of Glasgow Bank in 1878. 7

A comprehensive network of 213 'penny banks' for the very poor, comprised '60,000 depositors transferring ... £20,000 a year' to the parent Glasgow Savings Bank by 1881. 8 In 1914, there were over 80,000 such depositors, and the fact that 48% of its accounts held less than £20 in 1910 can be seen as an indication of the great trust in which it was held by its more modest savers. 9 In 1928, it advertised twenty- two offices in Glasgow, Clydebank and Rutherglen, total funds of £23,410, and a head office at 177 Ingram Street, by John and J. J. Burnet (1865, 1894 and after). 10 It was 'still the working man's bank'. 11

Notes:

1: J. Jackson and C. Munn, 'Trade, Commerce and Finance', W. H. Fraser and I. Maver, eds, Glasgow, 2, 1830–1912, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996, p. 83.

2: Joe Fisher, 'Banks', The Glasgow Encyclopedia, Edinburgh: Mainstream Publishing, 1994, p. 19.

3: P. L. Payne, 'The Savings Bank of Glasgow, 1836–1913', P. L. Payne, ed., Studies in Scottish Business History, London: Frank Cass & Co., 1967, p. 153–7; J. Jackson and C. Munn, 'Trade, Commerce and Finance', in W. H. Fraser and I. Maver, eds, Glasgow, 2, 1830–1912, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996, p. 84.

4: J. Jackson and C. Munn, 'Trade, Commerce and Finance', in W. H. Fraser and I. Maver, eds, Glasgow, 2, 1830–1912, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996, p. 84.

5: P. L. Payne, 'The Savings Bank of Glasgow, 1836–1913', in P. L. Payne, ed., Studies in Scottish Business History, London: Frank Cass & Co., 1967, p. 154.

6: P. L. Payne, 'The Savings Bank of Glasgow, 1836–1913', in P. L. Payne, ed., Studies in Scottish Business History, London: Frank Cass & Co., 1967, p. 154–5.

7: 'City of Glasgow Bank', Archive Services Exhibitions, www.gla.ac.uk/services/archives/ [accessed 17 June 2013]; Richard Savile, Bank of Scotland: A History, 1695–1995, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1996, pp. 421–5; Ewan A. Cameron, Impaled Upon A Thistle: Scotland Since 1880, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010, pp. 35–6.

8: J. Jackson and C. Munn, 'Trade, Commerce and Finance', in W. H. Fraser and I. Maver, eds, Glasgow, 2, 1830–1912, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996, p. 84; D. M. Ross, 'Penny Banks in Glasgow, 1850–1915', Financial History Review, 9, 2002, pp. 21–39, Enlighten: Research Publications by members of the University of Glasgow, http://eprints.gla.ac.uk [accessed 17 June 2013].

9: P. L. Payne, 'The Savings Bank of Glasgow, 1836–1913', in P. L. Payne, ed., Studies in Scottish Business History, London: Frank Cass & Co., 1967, p. 156.

10: Savings Bank Advertisement, Glasgow Commercially Considered, Glasgow Corporation Booklet, Glasgow: Kelvingrove Publishing Co., 1928, Appendix, p. xxxi; 'Glasgow Savings Bank Headquarters, Dictionary of Scottish Architects, 1840–1980, www.scottisharchitects.org.uk [accessed 17 June 2013].

11: Corporation of Glasgow, 'Banking', Industrial Guide to Glasgow, Glasgow: John Menzies, 1950, p. 67.