Kelso is a town in Scotland. The Royal Bank of Scotland traces its heritage there back to 1833.
National Bank of Scotland
The Royal Bank of Scotland's first branch in Kelso opened on Bridge Street as a branch of National Bank of Scotland on 7 February 1833. Kelso at that time was a busy market town with a population of around 4,000 people. Most of its residents were employed in commerce and handicrafts related to agriculture, and most of the town’s trade revolved around the sale of corn and livestock.
George Main was the branch's first manager, and served in that post until 1842, when he was succeeded by James Tait. Business at the branch thrived and the bank purchased new premises at 10 The Square in 1858. A serious fire struck this building in 1885, causing the banking hall to require full refurbishment. A night watchman was employed until the building could be made secure.
For the rest of the century the Tait family, through James and later his son David, remained in charge of the branch. By the time David died in 1925, their combined service to Kelso branch amounted to over 80 years.
By the early 20th century the banks faced challenging times. During the First and Second World Wars bank branches took on major new responsibilities and constraints. Throughout both wars, many bank staff, including eight men from Kelso branch, left their positions to take up roles in the armed services. The branch weathered the storm, however, and after the Second World War life began to return to normal.
A period of consolidation
In 1959 National Bank of Scotland merged with Commercial Bank of Scotland to form National Commercial Bank of Scotland. Commercial Bank also had a branch in Kelso. It had first opened in 1922 and since 1934 had been trading from premises at 6 The Square, designed for the bank by James McCallum. As a result of the merger, the two branches were brought together under one roof at number 6, where the branch remains today. Even today, the building’s projecting eaves and red brick facings make it a notable landmark on Kelso's fine Square.
The Royal Bank of Scotland
In 1969 National Commercial Bank of Scotland merged with The Royal Bank of Scotland, and Kelso became one of 693 branches in the Royal Bank’s expanded branch network.