Edinburgh World Heritage - News Article


Archive Anecdotes

Snippets from the city's archives

Jun 3, 2014

150 years ago, in 1864, building work began at the Mound headquarters of the Bank of Scotland following a decision recorded in the Bank’s minutes of 29 December 1863 to make 'some improvements upon the exterior of the Building'.

The ‘Building’ is the prominent landmark which stands on the Mound and which is now the Scottish headquarters of Lloyds Banking Group. It is an imposing building, but minutes, correspondence, photographs and plans from Bank of Scotland archives reveal that it did not always look as it does today.

Completed in 1806 as the Head Office of the Bank of Scotland and to plans by architects Robert Reid and Richard Crichton, the Georgian ‘villa’ with a classic shallow dome was considered a 'prominent deformity' by Lord Cockburn in his sharp letter to the Lord Provost in 1849 entitled 'On The Best Ways Of Spoiling The Beauty Of Edinburgh'.

Bank of Scotland head office, showing work beginning on Bryce alterations, 1860s (photograph by Antonia Reeve)

By the1860s the Bank sought to enlarge and improve the building. Designs were submitted by competing architects and the Directors selected David Bryce’s proposals to extend to the South and to add new wings to the East and West. Bryce's stunning centre piece was a new Florentine-style dome.

The dome was topped by a statue of the goddess ‘Victory’ sculpted by John Rhind. Some suggest the Goddess is ‘Fame’. However Fame is usually depicted with a trumpet, which is not present on Rhind’s statue. Click here for further detail

‘The Builder’ magazine of June 1878 reported:  'The final step in the realisation of the scheme of the late Mr. David Bryce for the improvement of the Bank of Scotland has been carried out'.  The long 14 year timescale of the works was partly due to the insistence that normal banking business should continue on site throughout.

Bank of Scotland head office, prospect view of north side, by David Bryce,  1860s-1870s.

While the exterior of the building has changed very little since 1878, the interior has undergone a number of transformations. During a major refurbishment in 2005 which restored many of Bryce's original features, the contractors discovered, behind some plasterwork, a mint condition copy of The North Briton newspaper from May 1868. This can be seen, along with other records and artefacts from the Bank’s history, at the Museum on the Mound within Bryce's west wing.

Images and records are published courtesy of the Lloyds Banking Group Archives. Records relating to the Bank on the Mound can be consulted by appointment. Please see website for further details.


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