finance

Dumfriesshire museum on site of world’s first savings bank saved from closure



TSB will transfer ownership of the world’s first savings bank to the local community, following outrage over plans to close it and move the contents to Edinburgh.

The bank said it had listened to the concerns about the loss of the museum to the village of Ruthwell.

TSB is meeting with local stakeholders today to start work on plans to transfer the assets to a local partner or community organisation.

Last month, it revealed plans to close the museum and move its contents to a new exhibition at the Henry Duncan House headquarters in the capital.

However, locals launched a petition, backed by politicians fighting to keep the artefacts and museum in Ruthwell.

David Mundell, MP for Dumfriesshire, was one of those fighting to keep the museum open.

He tweeted yesterday: “Oliver Mundell [his son and also MSP] and I are very pleased to have heard from TSB that they have listened to local people and are not going ahead with the closure of Ruthwell Savings Bank Museum and removal of Henry Duncan artefacts.

“They now want to find a way for it to continue on a community basis.”

George Gordon, TSB corporate affairs director, said: “We have listened carefully to the concerns raised by the community representatives and are now exploring ways to work with local groups to transfer ownership of the museum and its contents over to the local community.

“We are proud of TSB’s origins in the savings bank movement, so will continue with our plans for an exhibition in Henry Duncan House in Edinburgh, bringing this story to an even wider audience.”

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Reverend Henry Duncan set up his “penny bank” in 1810 to enable poor people to make small deposits and earn interest on their savings. Until then, because of high minimum deposits, banking was only available to the wealthy.

The TSB acquired the heritage centre for £1 in the 1950s.

The museum, which employed two people part-time, charts the life of Reverend Duncan, who was also responsible for the restoration of the Ruthwell Cross and who founded the Dumfries and Galloway Standard.

Until Covid-19 restrictions began, the museum was open part-time, attracting visitors from around the world.

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