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Clydesdale Bank plc (Scottish Gaelic: Banca Dail Chluaidh) is a commercial bank in Scotland. Formed in Glasgow in 1838, it is the smallest of the three Scottish banks. Independent until it was purchased by Midland Bank in 1920, it formed part of the National Australia Bank Group (NAB) between 1987 and 2016. Clydesdale Bank was divested from National Australia Bank in early 2016 and its holding company CYBG plc, trades on the London and Sydney stock exchanges. CYBG plc's other banking business, Yorkshire Bank operates as a trading division of Clydesdale Bank plc under its banking licence. In June 2018, it was announced that Clydesdale Bank's holding company CYBG would acquire Virgin Money for £1.7 billion in an all-stock deal, and that the Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank brands would be phased out in favour of retaining Virgin's brand.

Clydesdale Bank plc
Banca Dail Chluaidh
IndustryBanking, Financial services
Founded1838; 181 years ago (1838)
HeadquartersGlasgow, Scotland, UK
Key people
James Pettigrew (Chairman)
David Duffy (Chief Executive Officer)
ProductsRetail banking
SME banking
Private banking
Revenue£ 1.004 billion (2015)[1]
£(308) million (2015)[1]
£(249) million (2015)[1]
Total assets£ 38.7 billion (2015)[1]
Number of employees
c. 4,616 (2015)[1]
ParentCYBG plc

As with two other Scottish banks, the Bank of Scotland and the Royal Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale Bank retains the right to issue its own banknotes.



In March 1838, an advertisement appeared for a new joint stock banking company in Glasgow, the Clydesdale Banking Company. It was to be "chiefly a local bank – having few branches – but correspondents everywhere" though it was conceded that a branch in Edinburgh would be necessary. The Bank duly opened for business in both cities in May 1838.[2] Checkland described the Bank as the creation of "a group of Glasgow businessmen of middling order, liberal radicals…who were active in the government and charities of the city."[3]

The driving figure behind the formation of the Bank was James Lumsden, a stationer by business, a councillor, police commissioner and, later, Lord Provost of Glasgow. Another member of the founding committee, Henry Brock, became the Bank's first manager. Brock came of a merchant family, was an accountant and one of the founders of the Glasgow Savings Bank. Despite the declaration in the advertisement, in the year after formation the Bank opened three Glasgow branches as well as its first country branches in Campbeltown and Falkirk; a further seven had been opened by 1844. These were supplemented by the acquisition of the Greenock Union Bank; formed in 1840, it had four branches in the Glasgow hinterland.[2]


A former branch of Clydesdale Bank in Leith
The Clydesdale Bank/Banca Dhail Chluaidh Portree branch bearing a bilingual sign in English and Gaelic

Following the purchase of the Greenock Union, there was little change in the structure of the Bank and there were still only 13 branches in 1857. In that year, Clydesdale became the first Scottish bank to produce a printed balance sheet, and it showed assets of £2.7 million and net profits of £70,000. The public disclosure of its strength stood it in good stead, for only months later the Western Bank of Scotland closed its doors, followed the next day by the first closure of the City of Glasgow Bank. Clydesdale gained not only customers but 13 branches from the Western. A few months later came the acquisition of the Edinburgh and Glasgow Bank, which had been weakened by the same economic disturbances. The Edinburgh & Leith Bank, as it was originally, had been formed in 1838 "for the benefit of the 'industrious middle classes'" and it had bought the Dumfries-based Southern Bank of Scotland in 1842 and the Glasgow Joint Stock Bank in 1844, the latter leading to the change of name to Edinburgh & Glasgow Bank. Poor lending in the 1845–47 period, particularly to Australia, dogged the Bank for the next ten years and it was eventually taken over by the Clydesdale for a nil consideration; Clydesdale retained 19 of its 27 offices. Five years later, in 1863, Clydesdale acquired the more successful Eastern Bank of Scotland, like Clydesdale, also founded in 1838. Based in Dundee it was to have two separate offices and boards, one in Dundee, the other Edinburgh. Before opening for business it acquired the Dundee Commercial Bank to serve as its Dundee office. Difficulties with the two boards working together led to the Edinburgh bank being wound up and the Eastern became an essentially Dundee bank; its acquisition gave Clydesdale its first interests north of the River Tay.[2]

Much of the growth in the Bank's network had come from acquisitions and the management remained cautious regarding direct branch expansion. However, in 1865, a committee was formed to look at prospects and 16 branches were opened in two years. In 1874 the Clydesdale went south of the border and opened three branches in Cumberland but this was seen as following existing trade rather than making a specific attempt to enter the English market. Indeed, Clydesdale was one of the last Scottish banks to acquire a London office (1877). In 1878, the City of Glasgow Bank failed for the second time, leading again to an increase in Clydesdale's deposits and the acquisition of nine of the Glasgow branches. The scale of the collapse led to further debate on desirability of limited liability and, following legislation in 1879 (allowing fixed uncalled liability on shares), Clydesdale Bank registered as a limited liability company in 1882.[2]

Reid described the period 1890–1914 as "the tranquil years",[2] but that did not preclude steady expansion of the branch network – from 92 to 153.[4] That was to mark the end of Clydesdale's independent existence. In 1917 the Bank was approached by London City and Midland (later Midland Bank) and, although initially resisted, Clydesdale Bank was sold in 1920. However, it continued to operate independently and was always referred to as an affiliate, not a subsidiary. The Glasgow banks suffered more than others in the depressed economy of the inter-war period and from being the largest lender in Scotland in 1920, it fell to fifth place by 1939. Despite this, the Bank continued to open branches, particularly in areas enjoying export growth, and the network increased from 158 in 1919 to 205 in 1939.[4]

The Midland EraEdit

Midland had also acquired the North of Scotland Bank in 1923 but the Aberdeen management had fiercely resisted any attempt to merge with Clydesdale. However, the changed competitive market after the Second World War meant that the two banks could not remain separate and in 1950 they were amalgamated to become the Clydesdale and North of Scotland Bank (soon shortened to Clydesdale Bank). Clydesdale had 189 branches and the North of Scotland 161, covering 221 towns between them. Of the eight Scottish banks, Clydesdale had been the third largest by deposits, the North being the smallest. The merged bank became Scotland's largest in terms of deposits, advances and branches. However, by 1969, mergers elsewhere had reduced the number of Scottish banks to three with Clydesdale now being the smallest. Midland needed to rationalise the enlarged Clydesdale but faced resistance. Midland also needed additional capital and its solution to both challenges was to sell Clydesdale (along with Midland's Irish subsidiaries) to National Australia Bank in 1987.[4]

National Australia Bank GroupEdit

A Clydesdale Bank branch in Kilmarnock

In 1989 National Australia Bank bought the Clydesdale bank for £420 million. Fred Goodwin, an accountant working for Touche Ross, worked on the acquisition. In 1995 Goodwin, with little direct banking experience, was appointed deputy CEO of the Clydesdale until 1997. During this period Goodwin earned the nickname "Fred the shred" for his aggressive manner in dealing with staff.[5]

In September 2013 the bank was fined £8.9 million after miscalculating the mortgage repayments of more than 42,000 customers.[6] In March 2015 the House of Commons Treasury Select committee said in a conduct report that they had evidence that the Clydesdale Bank had mis-sold unregulated Tailored Business Loans and that the bank's own internal review of the mis-selling had serious shortcomings and lacked transparency.[7] In April 2015 the Clydesdale was fined £20.7 million the largest of its type imposed by the Financial Conduct Authority for the mis-selling of PPI insurance.[8][9]

CYBG plcEdit

National Australia Bank confirmed in October 2014 that it planned to exit the UK, and was considering a number of options for Yorkshire and Clydesdale Banks, including a possible stock market listing.[10] In October 2015, NAB confirmed it would float Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) in February 2016 through an initial public offering,[11] with an aim of raising £2 billion.[12][13] The bank's newly formed holding company CYBG plc began conditional trading on the LSE and the Australian Securities Exchange on 3 February, and began trading unconditionally from 8 February.[14] The flotation share price of 180p meant that the National Australia Bank made an estimated loss of £2 billion on the sale and had to make provisions of around £1.7 billion to cover claims for mis-selling of products.[15]

In March 2016 CYBG announced the closure of 28 branches as a cost saving move.[16] The following month, CYBG announced the closure of a further 9 Clydesdale branches and 17 Yorkshire Bank branches.[17]

Acquisition of Virgin MoneyEdit

In June 2018, CYBG plc announced it would acquire Virgin Money for £1.7 billion in an all-stock deal. Almost one in six employees are expected to lose their jobs in the takeover, which will result in retail customers being migrated to the Virgin Money brand over three years.[18] The acquisition of Virgin Money UK was completed on 15 October 2018.[19] In June 2019, CYBG plc announced its plans to consolidate its businesses under the Virgin Money brand. B and Yorkshire Bank, which exist as trading divisions of Clydesdale Bank plc will begin to use the Virgin Money name in late 2019 and Clydesdale Bank will use the new name from late 2020 to early 2021.[20] In preparation for rebranding, the existing Virgin Money plc will be merged into the existing Clydesdale Bank plc in October 2019.[21]


Following the announcement of the CYBG's takeover of Virgin Money in 2018 and planned phasing-out of the Clydesdale Bank brand by 2021 in favour of Virgin Money, it was announced that Virgin Money would continue to issue banknotes under the Clydesdale brand after 2021.[1]

Banknote historyEdit

Until prevented by the Bank Charter Act 1844, privately owned banks in Great Britain and Ireland were permitted to issue their own banknotes, and money issued by provincial Scottish,[22] English, Welsh and Irish banking companies circulated freely as a means of payment.[23] While the Bank of England eventually gained a monopoly for issuing banknotes in England and Wales, banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland retained the right to issue their own banknotes and continue to do so to this day. In Scotland, Clydesdale Bank, along with The Royal Bank of Scotland and Bank of Scotland, still prints its own banknotes.

2009 issueEdit

The current designs were released in autumn 2009.[24] The obverse designs feature famous Scots while the reverse designs feature Scotland's UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Image Value Main Colour Design
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse
[2] [3] £5 Blue Sir Alexander Fleming St Kilda
[4] [5] £10 Brown Robert Burns Edinburgh Old and New Towns
[6] [7] £20 Purple King Robert the Bruce New Lanark
[8] [9] £50 Green Elsie Inglis The Antonine Wall
[10] [11] £100 Pink Charles Rennie Mackintosh Neolithic Orkney

Previous issueEdit

The previous series of Clydesdale notes each depicted a notable person from Scottish history:[25]

An image of Adam Smith also features on the £20 note issued in 2007 by the Bank of England, granting Smith the unique status of being the only person to feature on banknotes issued by two different British banks, and the first Scot to appear on a Bank of England banknote.[26]

Older issuesEdit

The Clydesdale Bank ceased issuing £1 notes in the late 1980s. These latterly had an image of Robert the Bruce, whilst the contemporaneous £20 notes had an image of Lord Kelvin.

The £10 notes issued from 1971 bore an image of Scottish explorer David Livingstone with palm tree leaves and an illustration of African tribesmen on the back.[27] A later issue showed Livingstone against a background graphic of a map of his Zambezi expedition, showing the River Zambezi, Victoria Falls, Lake Nyasa and Blantyre, Malawi; on the reverse, the African figures were replaced with an image of Livingstone's birthplace in Blantyre.[28]

Commemorative banknotesEdit

Occasionally the Clydesdale Bank issues special commemorative banknotes to mark particular occasions or to celebrate famous people. These notes are much sought-after by collectors and they rarely remain long in circulation. Examples to date have included:[29][30]

  • a £5 issued in 1996 to commemorate the poetry of Robert Burns. On the front of the notes is an overprint of his poems above the portrait.[31]
  • a £10 issued in 1997 to commemorate the work of Mary Slessor. On the back of the note is the map of Calabar and Mary Slessor along with a group of Africans.
  • a £20 to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Edinburgh, October 1997, showing on the reverse the Edinburgh International Conference Centre where the meeting was held, along with Edinburgh Castle in the background and the new Clydesdale Bank building at Tollcross, Edinburgh
  • a £20 note to mark Glasgow's celebrations as UK City of Architecture and Design, featuring a portrait of Glaswegian architect Alexander "Greek" Thomson; on the reverse is an illustration of the Lighthouse building by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the dome of Thomson's Holmwood House (1999)
  • a £20 to mark the 700th anniversary of Robert the Bruce's coronation, featuring the Coat of Arms used by the Bruce on the front and a narrative commemorating the anniversary on the rear
  • a £10 note to mark the bank's sponsorship of the Scottish Commonwealth Games team, depicting the team logo on the front, and on the rear a montage of all the events at the games (2006)
  • a £5 note featuring a portrait of the Scottish civil engineer, Sir William Arrol and the image of the Forth Bridge to mark the 125th anniversary of the construction of the bridge; this issue is noted as it is printed on polymer rather than paper (see below).[32]

Polymer banknotesEdit

In March 2015, the Clydesdale Bank became the first bank in Great Britain to issue polymer banknotes. The £5 commemorative notes, issued to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the construction of the Forth Bridge, are printed by De La Rue and are the first in Europe to use the company's "Safeguard" polymer substrate security feature. The notes also use the "Spark Orbital" security feature which depicts a reflective map of Scotland over a transparent "window" in the banknote.[33][34]

Although the Clydesdale's 2015 issue are the first plastic banknotes issued within Great Britain, these are not the first polymer banknotes to be issued in the United Kingdom — in 1999, the Northern Bank (now Danske Bank) issued a series of polymer £5 notes depicting the US Space Shuttle. The Bank of England issued a polymer £5 note for the first time in September 2016.[35]

Commonwealth GamesEdit

In March 2005, Clydesdale Bank became one of the official partners of the Scottish Commonwealth Games Team, at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia. This sponsorship builds on the relationship formed by its parent, NAB Group, who are one of the Games' main sponsors as well as a key partner with the Australian team, whilst the sister company, Bank of New Zealand, has joined forces to support its national team. The bank also released a series of Ten Pound (£10) notes with a Commonwealth Games related theme for the occasion.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e "Annual report and consolidated financial statements 2015" (PDF). CYBG.
  2. ^ a b c d e J M Reid, The History of the Clydesdale Bank 1838–1938 (1938)
  3. ^ S G Checkland, Scottish Banking a History 1695–1973 (1975)
  4. ^ a b c Charles Munn, Clydesdale Bank, The First One Hundred & Fifty Years Our Bank (1988)
  5. ^ Brinded, Lianna (6 March 2015). "The sorry history of the near-destruction of investment banking at RBS". Business Insider.
  6. ^ "How Clydesdale failed customers". Money Marketing.
  7. ^ "Conduct and competition in SME lending report published". UK Parliament.
  8. ^ "Clydesdale Bank fined £20.7m over PPI failings". BBC online.
  9. ^ "Clydesdale Bank fined". FCA.
  10. ^ "NAB bank flags Clydesdale and Yorkshire sale in UK exit". BBC News. 30 October 2014. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  11. ^ Slater, Steve (28 October 2015). "Clydesdale could be target or challenger bank consolidator after IPO". Reuters. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  12. ^ Partington, Richard; David, Ruth (24 November 2014). "National Australia Said to Hire Morgan Stanley for U.K. Unit IPO". Bloomberg Business. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
  13. ^ Armstrong, Ashley (3 January 2015). "Flurry of floats expected as election looms". The Telegraph. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
  14. ^ Taverner, Charlie; Fedor, Lauren (3 February 2016). "Clydesdale Bank share price trades above opening offer as conditional trading starts on IPO after 24-hour delay". City A.M. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
  15. ^ "Offloading Glasgow-based Clydesdale Bank triggers hefty charge for former owner". Herald Scotland.
  16. ^ "Clydesdale Bank to axe 16 Scots branches". Scotsman newspaper online.
  17. ^ "Clydesdale Bank to close branches". BBC online.
  18. ^ "Virgin Money bought by CYBG for £1.7bn". BBC News. 18 June 2018. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  19. ^ "CYBG completes €1.9bn takeover of Virgin Money". The Independent. 15 October 2018. Retrieved 15 October 2018.
  20. ^ "Launching the new Virgin Money". CYBG. 19 June 2019.
  21. ^ "Clydesdale and Virgin Money are becoming one bank". Virgin Money UK.
  22. ^ "Bank of Scotland 'family tree'". HBOS History. Archived from the original on 15 September 2007. Retrieved 8 October 2007.
  23. ^ "British Provincial Banknotes". pp. 1–6. Retrieved 8 October 2007.
  24. ^ "Clydesdale launches Homecoming bank notes". The Herald. 2009. Archived from the original on 14 February 2009.
  25. ^ "Current Banknotes : Clydesdale Bank". The Committee of Scottish Clearing Bankers. Retrieved 15 October 2008.
  26. ^ "Smith replaces Elgar on £20 note". BBC. 29 October 2006. Retrieved 14 May 2008.
  27. ^ "Clydesdale 10 Pounds, 1982". Ron Wise's Banknoteworld. Archived from the original on 21 October 2008. Retrieved 15 October 2008.
  28. ^ "Clydesdale 10 Pounds, 1990". Ron Wise's Banknoteworld. Archived from the original on 21 October 2008. Retrieved 15 October 2008.
  29. ^ "Banknote Design Features : Clydesdale Bank". The Committee of Scottish Clearing Bankers. Archived from the original on 30 June 2008. Retrieved 15 October 2008.
  30. ^ "Clydesdale Bank Commemorative Notes". Rampant Scotland. Retrieved 15 October 2008.
  31. ^ Pick 224 Banknote Collection ( Retrieved on 9 November 2012.
  32. ^ Plastic £5 note 'first for Great Britain' BBC ( 22 May 2014. Retrieved on 28 May 2014.
  33. ^ "Clydesdale Bank brings in plastic £5 notes". BBC News. 23 March 2015. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  34. ^ "Plastic £5 notes released by Clydesdale Bank in first for Scotland". STV. 23 March 2015. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  35. ^ "Moving to Polymer Banknotes". Bank of England. Archived from the original on 30 March 2014. Retrieved 23 March 2015.

External linksEdit