Helensburgh Penny Savings Bank

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penny-bank-book-wTHE old maxim ‘take care of the pence and the pounds will take care of themselves' was one of the slogans of the Helensburgh Penny Savings Bank. 

Another was ‘persevere in the habit of saving, and you will soon acquire not only money, but comfort, respectability and independence'.

The bank book shown (right) is that of a Miss J.M.P. — no surname or address given — who deposited £100 in various instalments in the burgh bank between July 1 1895 and November 16 1896, which is equivalent to some £9,000 today!

Penny banks were first instituted in 1850, and by 1892 there were 226 in operation, with 80,000 depositors.

Penny banks in Glasgow and the surrounding area existed as part of the network of philanthropic organisations, and they were mostly frequented by the poorer sections of the working class — those for whom saving represented a difficult and occasionally sacrificial effort.

They provided for a voluntary individual decision to engage in saving, in contrast to the mutual organisations, such as friendly and industrial welfare societies which also proliferated in this period.

The enormous success of penny banks throughout Britain offered powerful evidence that a great deal of saving was happening in those days, even amongst the poorest sections of society.

They operated both as short-term liquidity stores and as vehicles for longer-term and larger-amount savings.

It was said at the time that the penny banks proved of great service in fostering, especially among poorer children, habits of thrift, which, as they grew older, led them to become depositors in the savings bank itself.

ex-provost-alex-breinganThe Helensburgh Penny Savings Bank, which served both young and old, operated until 1920, when it was taken over by the Helensburgh Savings Bank.

In 1943 it amalgamated with the Savings Bank of Glasgow, the largest Savings Bank in Britain, which eventually became the Trustee Savings Bank or TSB.

Back in 1895, the bank opened every Monday from 7-8 p.m. in the Mission Hall in King Street. Its officebearers were R.T.Brown, Birkfell; John Lindsay, Parkview; Donald Murray, Ashfield; and James Spalding, Writer and Auditor.

ex-provost-thomas-stevenIts trustees included flour merchant and former Lord Provost of Glasgow John Ure, of Cairndhu, town clerk George Maclachlan of Blairlomond, and Alexander Breingan (above left) of the Bank of Scotland.

Mr Breingan was a local dignitary and Provost from 1863-69. He was the first captain of Helensburgh Golf Club and in 1894 presented the Breingan Medal which is contested annually by the members to this day.

The other trustees were Mr Breingan's successor as Provost, Thomas Steven, Ardlui (right); John Anderson, Clarendon; James Allan, Woodend; and William Turner, Rachan House.

The bank book notes that ‘the hand of the diligent maketh rich', and exhorted: "SAVE Money - Many prosperous men have acknowledged that their success in life began with their joining the Savings Bank."