Falkirk TSB Head Office

Illus :   Above – the classical Building stands out in the street view with a Clockmaker’s shop beyond, then Cow Wynd and Learmonth’s Buildings (Now the Nationwide).

Right – the new Bank Building of 1896.

The TSB building on the High Street was originally constructed in 1896 to a design by William Black, architect, (and trustee of the bank), as a tall two-storey structure in the Classical style.  The face features a pedimented door at either end set in slightly advanced bays having channelled masonry at this level, with three arched and key-stoned windows between.  On the first floor were five arched windows set between pilasters with Corinthian capitals surrounding the central three – the outer two forming part of the advanced bays were plain.  Each window has a balustrade.  Above this were a plain entablature and then a balustraded parapet, plain at either end.  The scheme was clearly based upon Black’s earlier design for the Grangemouth Victoria Public Library.  On the ground floor were the public offices, the manager’s room, and a stone safe with an iron top constructed by Messrs Milner, safemakers.  Off a passage there was a stair leading to the first floor board-room, committee room and lavatories.

Illus: The High Street/Cow Wynd building with the Lloyds TSB branding in 2009.

The contractors for the building work were: mason work, Mr Dalziel; joiner work, J & A Main; plumber work, D Draper; slater work, John Harper; plaster work, James Miller; glazier work, Daniel O’May.  The total cost was between £1,700 and £1,800.  A key had been inscribed: “Present to Alexander Nimmo, Esq. of Westbank, by the architects and contractors on the occasion of his opening of Falkirk Savings Bank, 20th May, 1896.” and was used to turn the lock on the main door for the opening ceremony.  On the other side of the key was the Falkirk Burgh coat-of-arms and motto.  Unfortunately, Alexander Nimmo, the bank’s treasurer, was terminally ill and ex-Provost Malcolm Cockburn had to stand in for him.  Eighteen months later a gas lamp was erected outside the bank.

In 1915 the head office buildings were overhauled and the public office extended away from the High Street by a single storey rendered brick structure designed by William Black.  By 1920 the offices had become too small and so in 1921 the Bank bought the adjacent grocer’s shop to the east from William Gibson Neill for £4,600.  One of the shop units was tenanted by AL Aitken whose lease was for a further five years.  It was therefore agreed by the various parties involved that after that time Neill’s shop was to be demolished by Falkirk Council and most of the site used to widen Cow Wynd.  In exchange the Council gave the Bank land to the rear of their remaining property which they had already acquired for the widening of the street.  In 1926 the demolition duly took place and the street was greatly improved.  James G Callander, architect, was commissioned to design an extension to the existing High Street façade to take it around the street corner and along Cow Wynd, which he achieved with considerable flair.  On the corner splay he continued the themes of the Classical frontage with a wide arched door set in channelled masonry on the ground floor and an arched window above.  This was framed by plain pilasters and a parapet.  Once around the corner the ground floor is plainer but with the same grand arched windows, five in number, ending in a small door and window.  The moulded string course also continues along the Cow Wynd, unifying the design – as does the use of stone from the same quarry as the original building.  By contrast, the building steps down at eaves level.

Illus: The Banking Hall at the Head Office in Falkirk, 1959.
Illus: The Machine Room in the Head Office at Falkirk, 1960.

Three private cubicles were installed in 1959, and in 1960 a small extension was added to house a new accounting department with some computer capacity, along with a lift and toilets.

G.B. Bailey, 2022