Airdrie Savings Bank

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Airdrie Savings Bank
Savings Bank
Industry Finance and Insurance
Founded 1835
Founder Dr William Clark (first President)
Headquarters Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, Scotland
Products Financial Services
Slogan Trusted Locally, Welcomed Nationally

Airdrie Savings Bank is a small commercial bank operation in the Lanarkshire and Glasgow areas of Scotland. It runs 8 branches throughout this area, with its head office in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire. Total assets of the bank at 31 October 2006 were £126 million with reported profits of £0.555 million.

Corporate Structure[edit]

Airdrie Savings Bank is the only remaining independent Savings Bank in the UK. It operates on mutual principles, has no shareholders and is instead governed by a Board of Trustees, appointed to represent the interests of depositors and to ensure that the Bank is managed properly.

In addition to Airdrie, there are branches in Baillieston, Bellshill, Coatbridge, Motherwell, Muirhead, Shotts and Falkirk.


The revolutionary fervor which swept across Europe towards the end of the 17th century was due in no small part to the relentless endemic poverty that gripped the continent at that time.

One response to this chronic poverty was the savings bank movement which was started by individual philanthropists as an attempt to tackle the issue. These enlightened pioneers saw savings banks not as repositories of money for safe keeping but rather as a means for stimulating thrift among the poor with the aim of lifting them out of poverty. To them thrift was nothing less than a moral crusade.

The first true savings bank was established by Rev. Henry Duncan in the Dumfriesshire village of Ruthwell in 1810. But Duncan’s model was rapidly adopted across Scotland, the rest of the UK and continental Europe. In 1924 the world’s first International Thrift Congress was held in Milan and there were representatives there from 350 institutions around the world.

At the start of the 19th century Airdrie was a thriving town of weavers, growing rich on the Napoleonic war economy. With Wellington’s victory at Waterloo the weaving industry collapsed and Airdrie’s future looked bleak. But within a decade the discovery of ironstone beneath the ground transformed the town’s fortunes, transforming Airdrie once again into a booming industrial community. It was against the backdrop of this febrile atmosphere that the Airdrie Savings Bank was forged.

The bank was instituted in 1835 by the efforts of four “founding fathers” – Rev. John Carslaw (a local church minister and strong advocate of the temperance movement); Dr William Clark (a retired doctor and member of a wealthy old Airdrie family); Rev. Andrew Ferrier (another local minister); and James Knox (a local hat and cap manufacturer). [1]

In keeping with the spirit of the bank’s ethos the first Board of Directors included several weavers, a blacksmith, a schoolmaster, a stone mason, a tailor and a salesman. Indeed the blacksmith was Vice-President of the bank for over twenty years.

The first account was opened on January 21st 1835 with a deposit of £2 10s and by the end of 1835 a total of £355 had been deposited (over £31,000 today).

The first branch was opened in the Session House of a local church but the church closed in 1841 and the bank moved to the shop premises of the aforementioned tailor where it remained for twenty years before relocating to Mr Knox’s hat shop.

Finally a purpose built independent office was established in the town in 1883. This move did not meet with universal customer approval. Being located in shop premises afforded customers a degree of confidentiality as there was no way of knowing whether someone going into the shop was there for the shop or the bank. The establishment of stand-alone premises resulted in public exposure of those who held bank accounts and some resented this. By 1885 the bank total deposits had risen to £20,000 (£2 million today) and within a decade this figure increased ten-fold to £200,000 (£20 million today). At the same time the number of customer more than quadrupled from 1100 to 4600.

The bank went from strength to strength and deposits continued to double every decade such that by 1916 they had reached the £1 million mark (£87 million today). And at the end of 2014 those deposits stood at over £100 million.

During the First World War the bank continued to expand, opening new branches in Coatbridge (1916) and Bellshill (1917). In 1925 the head office in Airdrie relocated to new premises at the bottom of Wellwynd in the town where it remains today. Further expansion in the 1930s resulted in new branches in Shotts and Muirhead (both 1931) and Ballieston (1936).

Whifflet followed in 1969, Motherwell in 1997 and Falkirk in 2011.

Throughout this time the bank continued to see the idea of thrift as a moral crusade. As part of that crusade they enlisted the help of local schools and encouraged every pupil to having a savings account. They even took the bank into schools to do the banking there. This school scheme was launched in 1924 and continues to this day.

In August 2010 it was announced that a new branch would be opened after a cash injection of £10 million, from a group of Scottish entrepreneurs who support the bank's mutual model. Sir Angus Grossart, Sir David Murray, Ann Gloag, Brian Souter, Sir Tom Farmer and Ewan Brown each provided £1 million. Soutar stated that "Airdrie Savings Bank represents what Scottish banks once stood for - security of funds, a focus on savings and outstanding personal service". He went on to say that: "We believe the mutual principle is fundamental to the integrity of the bank. We are doing this because so many Scots are dismayed at what has happened within the banking sector".[2]

List of Presidents of Airdrie Savings Bank[edit]

Name Presidency
Dr William Clark, JP 1835 - 1837
Rev John Carslaw 1837 - 1840
Rev Andrew Ferrier 1840 - 1841
Rev John Carslaw 1841 - 1848
James Knox 1848 - 1861
Rev James McGown 1861 - 1866
Telford Martin 1866 - 1890
Thomas Jeffrey, JP 1890 - 1906
David Martyn, JP 1906 - 1918
William Neilson, JP 1919 - 1921
James Davidson, JP FRIBA 1921 - 1923
D. Rankine, JP 1923 - 1926
Thomas Armour, JP[3] 1926 - ?
Robert Boyle in 2010[4]


  1. ^ Knox, James (1927). The Triumph of Thrift. Airdrie: Baird & Hamilton Ltd
  2. ^ Campsie, Alison (28 August 2010) "Tycoons hand last independent bank £10 million". Glasgow: The Herald.
  3. ^ Knox, James (1927). The Triumph of Thrift. Airdrie: Baird & Hamilton Ltd. pp. 101–102. 
  4. ^ Pettigrew, Laura (18 March 2010). "Local bank that 'stuck to its knitting'". BBC News. Retrieved 13 July 2015. 

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