Biggar is a town in Scotland. The Royal Bank of Scotland traces its heritage there back to 1832.
Our first presence in Biggar
The Royal Bank of Scotland’s Biggar branch was originally opened by Commercial Bank of Scotland in November 1832. Commercial Bank had been founded 22 years earlier to provide banking services to smaller-scale traders and farmers. From the outset it pursued a policy of opening branches in rural areas, and Biggar proved an ideal location. The town’s population was under 2,000, but it also served a large surrounding agricultural district.
The directors appointed the accountant from their Lanark branch to serve as the agent at Biggar. The branch initially traded from temporary premises, but in 1835 the success of the branch prompted the bank to buy a site at 56 High Street for a purpose-built bank branch.
The branch continued to thrive as the town grew during the nineteenth century. Drainage and water supply systems were constructed, gas lighting installed in the streets, and a police station built. The railway arrived in 1860, linking Biggar to Edinburgh and Glasgow and prompting further development.
By the early twentieth century, however, Biggar branch was facing greater challenges. The outbreak of war in 1914 brought many new restrictions and responsibilities and, most seriously of all, the loss of skilled staff to the armed services. Three men left Biggar branch of Commercial Bank to serve in the forces during the First World War. To fill the vacancies left by men joining up, women were recruited to banking in large numbers for the first time. At Biggar, the first lady clerk was appointed in 1918.
Barely a generation later, banks had to cope again with the hardships of war. As well as staff shortages, there were constraints on foreign exchange and lending priorities, and banks became responsible for marketing and distributing savings certificates and defence bonds. Once again, staff from Biggar branch left to join the armed forces.
A period of amalgamations
After the war, Scottish banking entered a phase of mergers. In 1959, Commercial Bank of Scotland merged with National Bank of Scotland to form National Commercial Bank of Scotland. A decade later, National Commercial merged with The Royal Bank of Scotland, and the branch at 56 Biggar High Street became one of 693 branches of The Royal Bank of Scotland.
The merger meant that there were now two branches of the Royal Bank in Biggar, both located on High Street. The second branch, at number 104, had originally opened in 1857 as The Royal Bank of Scotland’s own branch in the town. In 1984, the two branches were brought together under one roof, initially at 56 High Street. In 1985, after extensive refurbishments and renovations, the branch moved to number 104, where it remains today.