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No Mean City: 1914 to 1950s

Trade and Communications

Banking and Finance

By Charles Munn

If Glasgow Corporation ran a bank... In 1914 war brought major problems and major opportunities to the banks. Employing women solved the staffing problems and the business opportunities were dealt with by financing whatever the government required. The banks emerged prosperous from the war but, at this stage, the English banks, which had been established on the Scottish model, were on the take-over trail. The Clydesdale Bank fell to Midland Bank in 1919. This and other take-overs left four of Scotland's eight banks in English hands. However, because they could still issue notes in Scotland, the banks retained their identities.

Bank of Scotland The inter-war years provide something of a puzzle for banking history. On the one hand the banks had to deal with the Depression and the serious problems that their industrial customers had to face. The history of the Clydesdale Bank shows that the bank did a great deal to support its customers despite the pressures that these times created for the bank itself.

On the other hand there were opportunities for expansion and the period witnessed a growth of fifty per cent in the number of branches. New services, in the shape of savings accounts aimed at small investors, were introduced in the 1920s.

The beginnings of automation of processing are also to be found in this period, but progress in this direction was initially quite slow. Bank staff were not immune from the trade union pressures of the period, but attempts at militancy, which were led by Glasgow bank clerks, were short-lived and unsuccessful.

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