1750: 'Ship' Sets Sail

Ship Bank 20 shilling (£1) note, 1834

Ship Bank 20 shilling (£1) note, 1834

On 8th January 1750, the Glasgow Courant newspaper announced that 'Colin Dunlop, Alex. Houston & Company, Bankers in Glasgow, have opened their office in the House of Arthur Robertson in Bridgegate…'.

Dunlop, Houston & Co. was the first banking company to be established in Glasgow. Prior to this, banking in Scotland had been dominated by the Edinburgh chartered banks (Bank of Scotland and the Royal Bank of Scotland).

Founded by six wealthy Glasgow merchants, the new company quickly became known as the 'Ship Bank', after the emblem of a ship in full sail which featured on its banknotes.

From 1775 to 1821, the Bank was dominated by its managing partner, Robert Carrick, or 'Auld Robin'. He was renowned for his eccentric business methods. These included sending secret signals to his cashier, to indicate whether or not bills should be accepted for discount.  Eccentric or otherwise, they proved successful. The Bank's balance sheet increased from just over £120,000 in 1777 to more than £1 million in 1821.

In 1843 the Ship Bank was acquired by the Union Bank of Scotland, which itself merged with Bank of Scotland in 1955.  Find out more about the history of the Ship Bank.

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