On this day 1838: Clydesdale Bank founded

The Clydesdale Bank headquarters in St Vincent Place, Glasgow. Picture: Robert Perry
The Clydesdale Bank headquarters in St Vincent Place, Glasgow. Picture: Robert Perry
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IN MARCH 1838, an advert was placed for a new joint stock banking firm in Glasgow: the Clydesdale Banking Company.

Two months later, the Clydesdale Banking Company opened for business in Glasgow - and Edinburgh - in May 1838. JM Reid’s history of the bank recalls that it was to be ‘chiefly a local bank - having few branches - but correspondents everywhere’.

The bank was initially viewed as the brainchild of a collective of Glasgow businessmen, described as ‘liberal radicals ... who were active in the government and charities of the city’.

James Lumsden was the lynchpin behind the bank’s formation, a councillor who would later hold the role of Lord Provost of Glasgow.

Henry Brock - another of the bank’s founding committee - became the bank’s first manager, having also co-founded the Glasgow Savings Bank.

By 1839, three Glasgow branches of the Clydesdale Bank had been established, as well as ‘country’ branches in Falkirk and Campbeltown.

Seven more had been opened by 1844, with the acquisition of the Greenock Union Bank (est. 1840) adding to the number of branches.

Despite the acquisition of the Greenock Union Bank, by 1857 the bank held just 13 branches. However, the closure of the Western Bank of Scotland, and the City of Glasgow Bank added a further 13 branches and countless new customers.

Throughout the 19th century, Clydesdale hoovered up smaller banks, and was purchased by the Midland Bank in 1920, before merging with the North of Scotland Bank in 1950.

Mergers across the banking industry reduced the number of Scottish banks and by 1969, Clydesdale was the smallest after the Bank of Scotland and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

It was eventually sold to the National Bank of Australia in 1987.


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