News and Views from Scotland

After 182 Years Airdrie Savings Bank to Bite the Dust

Airdrie Savings Bank Head office, © Jim Smillie via Wikimedia Commons

Airdrie Savings Bank, the last survivor of Britain's independent savings banks, has announced that it is closing down, with the loss of around 70 jobs.

The increased cost of bank regulation, burdensome for a small player, have been blamed.

The date for the closure of the two remaining branches in Bellshill and Coatbridge has not yet been announced.

In 2015 the bank closed branches in Baillieston, Muirhead (pictured here), Motherwell and Shotts.

A trade union spokesman said: "Airdrie Savings Bank has become yet another innocent victim of casino bankers."

Airdrie and Shotts Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) Alex Neil expressed his "deep sorrow" at the closure.
"The Airdrie Savings Bank (ASB) has been an institution for 182 years. It has served the people of Lanarkshire well for all that time. After the financial crash of 2008, it was probably, for a while, one of the few viable banks left in Britain."

The first trustee savings bank (TSB) was established as a mutual organisation by Reverend Henry Duncan of Ruthwell in Dumfriesshire, Scotland for his poorest parishioners in 1810. The concept of a bank for less wealthy people to save in a bank arose at a time when the minimum deposit in a commercial bank was equivalent to the annual wage of many working people. The savings banks accepted as little as one penny and withdrawals could be made at any time without penalty. The savings bank principles spread across Scotland, the UK and to other countries around the world, with each town and area having their own bank supervised by non-paid local trustees (mainly business men). Early legislation to cover them in the UK was updated in 1836 but a few institutions remained regulated by an earlier Act and Airdrie was one of them. After TSB Bank Scotland plc was created in 1986, Airdrie Savings Bank was invited to merge with this new organisation but declined.

Airdrie Savings Bank was the first bank in Scotland to have the cashiers on the counter linked by computer terminals and on-line connections to customer accounts on their central computer system so that the transactions could update these accounts in real-time and customer passbooks could be updated online from the central system.

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