Falkirk and Counties Savings Bank Headquarters

High Street/Cow Wynd

J G Callander had been a trustee of the Falkirk and Counties Savings Bank for several years before he was asked to design a landmark building as part of an extension to its head office at 137 High Street, Falkirk.  The original building had been built in 1896 according to plans by W Black – who had also been a trustee.  The bank expanded rapidly and by 1920 it was looking for larger premises.  It was fortunate in acquiring the adjacent buildings which extended eastward as far as the junction with Cow Wynd.  The building on the corner was of a considerable age and was to be demolished.  J G Callendar immediately opened negotiations with Falkirk Council to exchange part of the land upon which the old building stood with land to the south on Cow Wynd which the Council had bought to help with the widening of the street there.  The corner building was demolished in June 1927, almost a century after the widening of the street had first been proposed and allowing a width of 37ft at this point.

Illus 42: Corner Entrance to the Bank.

The plans were submitted to the Dean of Guild in March 1927 and the following month tenders were invited for the various works – schedules of quantities obtainable form J G Callander.  The ground floor of the reconstructed building consisted of a large banking hall and office, the main entrance to which was at the corner of Cow Wynd and High Street and was enclosed with a finely-designed wrought iron gate relieved with a bronze panel.  A staff entrance was provided on Cow Wynd.  The lower part of the walls of the banking hall were carried out in statuary and blue turquin marble panels, and the public floor space laid with marble to harmonise.  There was ample counter accommodation with bronze grilles and gate.  The windows were screened with ultra-violet glass.  The actuary’s private room was also on the ground floor, conveniently situated for the supervision and control of the establishment.  The first floor consisted of a large boardroom, deputation room, and chairman’s room, together with the necessary lavatory accommodation; access to this floor being from the Cow Wynd entrance.  A large fire and burglar proof strong room was constructed in the basement to provide safe accommodation for the filing of the books and so on.  An electric lift ran from the basement to the public office and a Dictaphone system was installed.

The exterior of the extension was in keeping with the Victorian Renaissance style of the old building.  The corner with the main entrance was chamfered and imitated the High Street frontage with channelled masonry on the ground floor, a blind balustrade with a round-arched window set between Corinthian capitals on the first floor, and a tall cornice.  The building steps down for the Cow Wynd elevation and presents a simpler cleaner version in the same pale stone.  There is no channelling or heavy cornice here and the contrast is pleasing.  The five windows flood the banking hall with light and are flanked on the left by a narrow round-arched door and a diminutive window each topped by a small square window.  The upper floor has six rectangular windows that contrast with the rest of the building and give the wing a more modern appearance.

It opened in October 1929 having cost in the region of £10,000 exclusive of the price paid for acquiring the old property.  The architect presented ex-Provost Russell with a gold key and a wireless set with a silver plate attached bearing the inscription; “The Falkirk and Counties Savings Bank.  Presented to ex-provost Russell, J.P., chairman of the bank, by the architect and contractors on the occasion of the opening of the building on 24 October, 1929, as reconstructed and enlarged.”

Contractors – mason and brick work – John Gardner; joiner work – J A Main; slater work – Drummond & Crowe; plumber work – George Robertson; plaster and cement work – David McNair; lath work – William Harley; glazier work – D O’May; steel work – Redpath & Co Ltd, Glasgow, electrical work – Blackadder Brothers; marble work – Toffle, Jackson & Co, Glasgow; granite work – Roberts and Sons; painter work – McIntosh; heating work – C F Howden, Glasgow; electric lift – John Bennie, Glasgow; dictograph system – Dicto-Telephones Ltd, Glasgow; frills and — – Wylie & Lochhead Ltd, Glasgow; brass work – Charles H Henshaw, Edinburgh

Falkirk & Counties Trustee Savings Bank        SMR 442         NS 8886 7987

G.B. Bailey, 2021