Melrose

Melrose is a town in Scotland. The Royal Bank of Scotland traces its heritage there back to 1858.

The Royal Bank of Scotland

The Royal Bank of Scotland's Melrose branch first opened in May 1858. A branch in the town had previously been run by Edinburgh & Glasgow Bank, but following that bank's near-collapse in 1857, the branch's agents approached the Royal Bank of Scotland to suggest that it take over the branch, including its premises, staff and customers. The bank agreed, and the branch immediately changed hands.

Melrose at that time was already attracting large numbers of tourists, thanks to its historic abbey and picturesque local scenery. During the 19th century the town prospered and expanded, with a number of new streets being built on its outskirts. The nearby Waverley Hydropathic Establishment, erected in 1871 and enlarged in 1876, also attracted visitors to the town. The surrounding countryside, meanwhile, boasted a thriving agricultural economy, for which Melrose was an important centre.

St Dunstan's House

The Royal Bank of Scotland’s new branch thrived, and as business expanded, better premises were needed. In 1887 the branch moved to St Dunstan’s House, a villa on the High Street which had originally been built as a private home in the 1840s.

As the 19th century drew to a close, both town and bank continued to prosper, but more challenging times were on the horizon. During the First and Second World Wars banks faced restrictions, additional responsibilities and, most seriously, had to cope with the loss of skilled staff to the armed forces.

Consolidation

In the post-war era a series of mergers reduced the number of note-issuing banks in Scotland from eight in 1950 to just three by 1973. In 1969 the Royal Bank of Scotland merged with National Commercial Bank of Scotland to create a bank that enjoyed over 40 per cent of Scotland’s banking business. In Melrose, the Royal Bank now had two branches, because National Commercial had also had a Melrose branch, originally opened by Commercial Bank of Scotland in 1886.

The two branches initially traded side by side, but in March 1974 they were brought together under one roof in the old National Commercial premises further up the High Street, while the long-standing Royal Bank premises were extensively renovated. In November 1976, upon completion of the alterations, the unified branch moved back to its permanent home at St Dunstan’s House.