Colin Smyth MSP
Colin Smyth MSP

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has stepped up his campaign to keep the TSB museum in Ruthwell open, by lodging a motion in the Scottish Parliament.

TSB plans to permanently axe the museum in Ruthwell, which was the site of the world’s first savings bank and transfer the contents of the bank to their HQ in Edinburgh.

The museum is located in the “penny bank” established in 1810 in the Dumfriesshire village by local Minister Henry Duncan for local parishioners, which ultimately became the Trustee Savings Bank (TSB).

Colin Smyth wrote to the TSB Chief Executive calling for a rethink and this week has lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament.

The motion reads:

“This Parliament condemns the proposal by the Trustee Savings Bank (TSB) to close the Savings Bank Museum in Ruthwell, Dumfriesshire and move the historic artefacts to their Head Office in Edinburgh; notes that the museum was the home of the original Ruthwell Parish Bank opened by Dr Henry Duncan in 1810, when parishioners were paid interest on their modest savings; recognises that Dr Duncan persuaded the Earl of Mansfield to donate the cottage to the Friendly Society for the benefit of the community of Ruthwell and is where Dr Duncan distributed food to the parishioners before establishing and running from the cottage what is recognised as the world’s first savings bank; notes that the museum now houses a historic collection of home savings boxes, coins and bank notes from many parts of the world, a collection of books on the worldwide spread of savings banks and important archives on the history of the savings banks; believes the museum plays an integral role not only in marking the history of the savings bank but celebrating the life of Dr Henry Duncan, who was born at Lochrutton new Dumfries in 1774 and ordained as the Minister of Ruthwell Church in 1799, serving the local community until his death in 1846; urges the TSB to re-consider its plans and work with the local community to retain this important museum and all the historic artefacts in the Ruthwell community.”

Colin Smyth said: “The museum in Ruthwell was the birthplace of the savings bank and if they close the doors on the museum, TSB will be turning its back on an important piece of our history.

“The company claims visitor numbers are small but do little to promote what is a fascinating piece of our nation’s past.

“Claiming they will have a token exhibition in Edinburgh instead of the museum in Ruthwell ignores the fact that it is the location and the building itself that is a key part of its historical significance. The TSB may now own some of the historic artefacts but they have no moral right to remove them from the Ruthwell Community. This museum is not only an integral part of the history of the savings bank, but it celebrates the life of Dr Henry Duncan who served the local community of Ruthwell.

“I think it’s important to take this campaign further and that’s why I have lodged this motion in the Scottish Parliament. I hope it secures cross party support and we can put pressure on the TSB to reverse this decision.”

A local petition to seek a reversal of the TSB’s decision has also been established and has so far been signed by over 1000 people.

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