Clydesdale Bank Building
Known to be in Blantyre since at least 1879, the Clydesdale Bank was not in the 1875 valuation roll, but was in Naismith’s Directory of 1879, meaning a likely construction date between 1876 and 1878. Then known as the Clydesdale Banking Company, the business was founded in Glasgow in 1838 and became limited in 1882.
The detached house, garden and bank office has been wholly owned by the Clydesdale Bank for most of its lifetime. An early, small outbuilding at the back may have been a store for the bank manager’s garden. The first agent was Mr. Hugh McCallum, who would be manager until the late 1880’s.
The building is quite distinctive and unique for Glasgow Road. Not built in a traditional tenement style, this property has a pitched roof above bay windows on the west side and is 2 storey high. Constructed of stone with a slate roof it has a central doorway, a double window on the east and bay windows and single window on the west. An attic room above the bay windows gives the tall building an impression of being 3 storey on one side. Wooden soffits are ornately carved in curves and spirals and still exist today, suggesting the initial good choice and use of quality hardwood timbers. These wooden features make the building instantly recognizable to locals, as no other building on Glasgow Road has that unusual style. Perhaps it was the Bank’s way of showing the importance and uniqueness of this property.
By 1895, the next bank manager was George Campbell who would manage the bank until the end of the First World War. The rent value of the bank prior to the war was £70 per annum, but only £60 following the war as the country struggled to piece back normality. The bank manager lived in the building in the upper house and would work downstairs in the office, overseeing clerks and early tellers.
The building would be given address 261 Glasgow Road prior to WW1 and by 1920, the next manager and agent was J. Thomson who would manage the bank well into the late 1930’s.
Clydesdale Bank was sold in 1920. However, it continued to operate independently under the same name and was always referred to as an affiliate, not a subsidiary. The Glasgow banks suffered more than others in the depressed economy of the inter-war period and from being the largest lender in Scotland in 1920, it fell to fifth place by 1939. Despite this, the Bank continued to open branches, particularly in areas enjoying export growth, and the network increased from 158 in 1919 to 205 branches in 1939, one of which was still Blantyre.
Midland Bank had acquired the North of Scotland Bank in 1923 but the management had fiercely resisted any attempt to merge with Clydesdale. However, the changed competitive market after the Second World War meant that the two banks could not remain separate and in 1950 this was reconsidered and they were amalgamated to become the Clydesdale and North of Scotland Bank (soon shortened to Clydesdale Bank).
Post WW2 Years
The resident Bank Manager in the 1950’s was Mr Blaikie. The downstairs were all tellers and the safe and secure area where a large locked safe occupied a large part of the floor. Upstairs as well as the bank managers home were old ledgers and document storage. Another manager was Mr. McAustin. This was an era when all transactions were hand written, even into the 1960’s with fountain pens. Clerks would get annoyed at this practice as it would often be messy.
By 1969, mergers elsewhere had reduced the number of Scottish banks to three with Clydesdale Bank now being the smallest.
Another bank manager was Mr. William Cumming who lived with this wife Toni and 3 sons in the upper storey. However, after his adopted son David, drowned in the River Clyde in 1975, the Cumming family moved away to Partick. Around that time, Mrs. McQuade was a cleaning lady on the premises.
In 1983, the Clydesdale Bank moved location further eastwards to the former Co-op Emporium Building. It was a more modern building and more functional for the bank, who was by then up against competition in Blantyre not just from Royal Bank of Scotland, but also the arrival of the ‘Abbey National’ at Clydeview Shopping Centre.
261 Glasgow Road then became a bookmakers and the external stonework entirely whitewashed in the mid 1980’s completely changing the look of the building. Ladbrokes continue to operate their business from the lower ground floor. The upper floor had become ‘Crawford Mason Layers’ and remained there until 2013 when the lawyers became ‘Lanarkshire Law Practice.’
In 1989 National Australia Bank bought the Clydesdale bank for £420m with bank branding changing. In 2016, the Clydesdale Bank announced their departure from Blantyre after being there for nearly 140 years. Their building next to Broomknowe Cottage still looks in good condition and is well used.
From the book, “Blantyre Glasgow Road South – The Real Story” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017
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