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Historic Ruthwell banking museum re-opens

A BRIGHT future lies in store for the world’s first savings bank following its official re-opening this week

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By Zac Hannay
Nostalgia
Historic Ruthwell banking museum re-opens
BACK OPEN . . . Will Dowson of the Bank of England is pictured in Henry Duncan’s chair alongside Professor David Thomson and Teresa Church

Ruthwell Savings Banks Museum will open back up to the public this weekend after a special ribbon-cutting event was held on Monday afternoon.

The historical site was established by the Rev Henry Duncan in 1810.

Duncan did something revolutionary when he set up the Ruthwell Parish Bank – the world’s first self-supporting bank paying interest on investors’ modest savings – to serve the local people in the community.

Visitors will see the very room where it happened in May 1810, as well as the bank’s original money box, the chair in which he sat, and other precious artefacts.

They will also be able to learn more about Duncan’s work as parish minister, political lobbyist, anti-slavery campaigner, educator, geologist, poet, artist, author, and his other significant achievements including founding the first newspaper in Dumfries and Galloway – The Courier – and the Dumfries and Galloway Standard, and rebuilding and restoring the medieval Ruthwell Cross, which can be seen in Ruthwell Church.

The museum was recently transferred to Comlongon Estate Ltd from TSB.

Comlongon’s owners Professor David Thomson and Teresa Church are also the co-owners of Annandale Distillery and custodians of The Globe Inn.

They have pledged significant investment into the museum and will be doing all they can to make the site viable, ensuring a long lasting future.

Professor Thomson said: “It’s absolutely fantastic. Henry Duncan was a tremendous man. A man before his time. The last thing we wanted was for his memory to be lost, and through this museum we can bring that back to life and give it prominence.”

Museum manager Mhairi Hastings added: “Henry Duncan achieved so much. He really was a remarkable man way ahead of his time.

“It’s nice that he’s getting the recognition for all the things he achieved.

“This is the first savings bank in the world. He started the movement for it.”

Among the special guests were tour operators, marketing groups, Dumfries and Galloway Council staff, local community groups and a representative from the Bank of England.

Rene Anderson was one of those in attendance, she previously worked and lived at the museum. During that time she received contact from some of Henry Duncan’s descendants and remains in touch with them today. Her booklet – The Rev Henry Duncan DD: The ‘Father’ of Savings Banks – is available to purchase at the museum.

  • The Ruthwell Savings Banks Museum will be open on a full-time basis from 10 am until 4 pm five days a week. More information can be found on the website: henryduncansavingsbanksmuseum.com

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