Carron Bank


By 1790 the Carron Company had made strong financial progress since the crisis of 1772 and under the careful management of the Staintons it built up reserves of capital.  Despite this it was having problems paying wages and smaller invoices due to the scarcity of silver and low denominational banknotes.  The Merchant Bank of Stirling and the Thistle Bank both issued such notes which made their appearance in the area but they were not sufficiently common or trusted.  Dividends at Carron Company were reasonably good and the management were loath to see more of its profits dissipate on them.  The General Court of Carron Company agreed at its meeting in 1795 to issue promissory notes of five shillings and upward (Watters 2010, 116).  The Carron name provided a high degree of confidence in the issue and these were generally accepted by the public at large.

Illus: Carron Co. banknote (Falkirk Museum).

A blank unissued banknote of variable value probably of this early date is in the collections of the National Museum of Scotland (Accession No. H.OIA47 – on display).  However it was the low denomination of 5s which was almost exclusively produced.  Five shillings banknotes of the Carron Company dated to 1797 are to be found at the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow (Accession No. GLAHM:17186) and at Falkirk Museum (Accession No. 1987-137-3 & 4).  Most of these were also unissued.

It was particularly popular with the lower classes.  This very popularity was also their downfall as they frequently exchanged hands and became dirty, torn and faded – so much so that it made it well nigh impossible to detect forgeries.  In 1801 the Bank of England in fulfilment of its role as a regulator determined that 5s notes should be withdrawn.  From March 1802 no new notes of this denomination were issued and the banks would only accept their own notes.  Eventually they were all withdrawn from circulation to the great inconvenience of the less well off.  The poor survival of Carron Company notes may be due to their low denomination and the resultant damage.

Illus: Carron Company banknote (Falkirk Museum).


Watters, B.2010Carron: Where Iron Runs like Water.

Geoff B. Bailey, 2022