Royal Bank of Scotland

Bank of Scotland branches in England

The outbreak of war meant the Bank had to refocus its policies on national need. The inter-war years proved difficult too, and it was only after the Second World War that the economic climate improved.

The 1950s sparked a series of mergers and acquisitions right across the financial sector. Bank of Scotland began this phase of its development by merging with the Glasgow-based Union Bank of Scotland in 1955. Three years later, it expanded into consumer credit with the acquisition of North West Securities (later Capital Bank). Then in 1971, it merged with the British Linen Bank.

The '50s also heralded the age of computerisation, which was to revolutionise British banking. Bank of Scotland was at the forefront. In 1959, it became the first UK bank to install a computer for processing its accounts centrally. Then in 1985, the Bank again led the way with the launch of Home Banking, the first phase of HOBS (Home and Office Banking Service). An early application of internet technology, this gave customers direct access to their accounts, via a television screen and Prestel telephone network.

Overseas Development and Subsequent Mergers

The Bank was swift to appreciate the massive potential of North Sea Oil. By the early 1970s, it had set up its own specialist Oil Division, financed exploration of the Forties Field, and played a leading role in establishing the International Oil and Energy Bank. In 1975, Bank of Scotland opened its first overseas office in Houston, Texas. Branches followed in other U.S. states, Moscow, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Inroads were subsequently made into Australasia, with the 1987 purchase of Countrywide in New Zealand, and that of the Bank of Western Australia (BankWest) in 1995.

In 2001, Bank of Scotland merged with the Halifax to form HBOS plc. Then in January 2009, following unprecedented turbulence in the global financial markets, HBOS plc was acquired by Lloyds TSB. The new company, Lloyds Banking Group plc, immediately became the largest retail bank in the UK.

Lloyds Banking Group plc registered office, the Mound, Edinburgh. Lloyds Banking Group plc registered office,
the Mound, Edinburgh.

Further Information

  • Bank of Scotland 1695-1995: A Very Singular Institution by Alan Cameron (Mainstream Publishing, Edinburgh, 1995).
  • Bank of Scotland A History 1695-1995 by Richard Saville (Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 1996).
  • The Bank of Scotland 1695-1945 by Charles A. Malcolm (R. & R. Clark Ltd, Edinburgh, [1945]).
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