Plans to close world's first savings bank museum 'devastating for local area'

Plans to permanently close a Dumfries & Galloway museum at the site of the world's first savings bank would be 'devastating for the local area'.

Closed because of coronavirus, the 'Penny Bank' museum in Ruthwell will now not reopen - instead its historic contents will be moved to Edinburgh. 

Opened more than 200 years ago in 1810 by local Minister Henry Duncan, it allowed the local parishioners to gain interest on their modest savings for the first time ever.

The firm ultimately became the Trustee Savings Bank, now known as TSB.

Historian Mark Turner said: "I think, in relation to community heritage, to actually have the place where the first savings bank was set up is incredibly important.

"Centralization of things and moving things to the city isn't always the best, at times. I think it would be devastating for the local area."

There's anger from local MSP Colin Smyth. He's written to the TSB Chief Executive calling for a rethink. He told ITV Border: "I think it's disappointing even in the middle of a pandemic banks are always looking for a ways to try and cut costs and make more profits, but the reality is they save literally pennies by closing this museum.

"Moving the artifacts to Edinburgh misses the point, it loses the culture and the background is in the community itself and that's where the museum should stay."

MSP Colin Smyth Credit: ITV News

A TSB spokesperson said: "The museum in Ruthwell was closed last year because of lockdown and TSB is creating a new exhibition Edinburgh Head Office, Henry Duncan House.

"The Henry Duncan story is a proud part of TSB's history, and by having these items on display in our head office in central Edinburgh we believe more people and colleagues will be able hear and learn about his significant contribution to Scotland."