Latest incident sparks memories

Following the recent safe-cracking activity at the Kirriemuir Royal Bank branch, I thought a few particulars about the history of the Kirriemuir banks would not go amiss.

The branch was originally opened by the National Bank of Scotland on April 4, 1850, as part of a policy of branch network expansion, which the bank had actively pursued since its foundation in Edinburgh in 1825.

The new branch opened for business in Bank Street, under the agency or management of George Brand.

In 1852 property adjoining the branch’s premises was purchased to allow for the construction of the purpose-built banking office that is still there today or at least until February when it will close!

Will the cash-line machine that was destroyed ever be replaced?

In 1954 the bank premises at 23 Bank Street underwent a major refurbishment and then in 1959 National Bank of Scotland merged with Commercial Bank of Scotland. 

This new company, National Commercial Bank of Scotland, itself amalgamated with The Royal Bank of Scotland 10 years later in 1969 to form The Royal Bank of Scotland Ltd.

Following this merger in 1971, the Kirriemuir branch absorbed the business of the former Royal Bank office at the top of Marywell Brae, which had opened in 1927. 

This was not the first bank in the town though; that honour goes to the British Linen Bank which opened in 1825, under the guidance of philanthropic John Webster, of whom I have written before, as he established ‘Webster’s Seminary’ in the town.

The British Linen Bank merged with the Bank of Scotland in 1971.

Now, the Bank of Scotland at 11 Bank Street has a lot of tales to tell.

This iconic building was built by the City of Glasgow Bank, which collapsed a few years later in 1878 and that was when the Bank of Scotland bought the building at the public roup for a knockdown price.

Alexander Milne Watson was the first manager from 1876 until he was stabbed in 1879!

Stabbings are not that common in Kirrie, however this most unpopular manager (with both the public and other bank agents) eventually resigned the following year. In years gone by, I’m sure A. Milne Watson’s stabbing would have got the tongues wagging in Kirriemuir. 

The Kirriemuir Branch Procedure Book does not specify the cause of his stabbing (by his brother-in-law William Barrie no less), which took place in WB’s (also William Barrie) father’s house. But a salutory and intriguing tale nonetheless.

The next dramatic incident was on July 23, 1993 when there was an armed robbery at the bank.

A Dundee man assaulted and robbed a Securicor bank courier at the Bank of Scotland, in the town’s Bank Street.

A sawn-off shotgun was presented at the hapless victim who was ordered to lie face down on the ground.

He was then repeatedly struck on the head with a metal bar and robbed of a bag containing bank documents and cheques.

The teenager was sentenced to four years’ detention for a “vicious and cowardly” attack on the bank courier.

The High Court at Edinburgh was told one of two men accused of taking part in the robbery was set free at the end of a three-day trial at the High Court in Perth.

The jury returned a unanimous verdict of not proven in the case against a Kirriemuir man.

Other banks in the town were the Union Bank, which was founded in 1856 (now the home of the Vault, hence the name) in the Glengate.

The last agents there were the well kent faces of David Smith and Brewster Carnegie.

The branch closed in 1955 when it merged with the Bank of Scotland under the control of Bob Drummond.

The last bank is of course now Lloyds TSB Branch.

I don’t have much information for the Lloyds TSB branch in Kirriemuir, but I can tell you that the Dundee Savings Bank opened a branch in the town in 1838, but it closed in 1847 due to lack of business. 

They did not open a branch again until 1942, but at least they are still serving the public as I write this.  

Yours aye,

THE ORRAMAN.