Dundee is a city in Scotland. The Royal Bank of Scotland traces its heritage there back to 1763.
Dundee Banking Company
The Royal Bank of Scotland's oldest branch in Dundee originally opened on 1 August 1763, as Dundee Banking Company. Founded by George Dempster of Dunnichen, it traded from two shops on the High Street, under the Town House. It was the first bank in Dundee, and for a generation remained the only one.
The bank flourished, playing a key role in the local economy and financing most of the city's industries. It was said that Dundee’s progress in those days could be traced through the balance sheets of Dundee Banking Company.
In 1801 the bank moved to new premises at 9 Castle Street. By this time, other banks had also opened up in Dundee, including one Dundee-based competitor, known as Dundee New Bank from 1802. In 1838 Dundee Banking Company acquired Dundee New Bank, and two years later the merged bank’s head office moved to 22 Castle Street. In 1864 Dundee Banking Company was bought by The Royal Bank of Scotland.
The Royal Bank of Scotland
The Royal Bank of Scotland already had a presence in Dundee. When the Glasgow-based Western Bank of Scotland had failed in 1857, the Royal Bank had taken over its Dundee branch, located at 105 Murraygate. After it acquired Dundee Banking Company in 1864, that bank’s head office in Castle Street became the Royal Bank’s principal Dundee branch, and its branches in Lochee, Broughty Ferry and Alyth also joined the Royal Bank. Keen to expand still further, the bank opened new branches in King Street and West Port in 1866.
In 1899 the Royal Bank’s principal Dundee branch moved to purpose-built new premises on a corner site in High Street, where RBS Dundee Chief Office remains today. Designed by Sir George Washington Browne, the building features a frontage of ionic columns and a high, glass-domed banking hall.
Twentieth century and beyond
The twentieth century brought more challenging times. The First World War, the subsequent severe depression, and then the Second World War, affected Dundee deeply. Although the Bank’s presence in Dundee generally expanded during this period, wartime restrictions forced some branches to close during the Second World War.
The post-war years were a period of consolidation in the Scottish banking sector. In 1969 The Royal Bank of Scotland merged with National Commercial Bank of Scotland, which itself had been formed a decade earlier by the merger of National Bank of Scotland and Commercial Bank of Scotland. These mergers greatly expanded the Royal Bank’s footprint in Dundee. National Bank of Scotland had been present in the city since 1827, and Commercial Bank of Scotland since 1863.
After the 1969 merger, the Bank reorganised its Dundee branches to ensure the best representation across the city. Some branches closed or merged; others opened. In the mid-1990s the flagship branch on Dundee High Street was fully refurbished. These premises remain the home of RBS Dundee Chief Office today. Now, after 250 years, this branch – along with others around the city – continues to serve customers in and around Dundee.