No place like dome for RBS

Branch manager Tommie Cannon' takes in his refurbished surroundings. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Branch manager Tommie Cannon' takes in his refurbished surroundings. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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IT has stood at the heart of the city for hundreds of years, but now Dundas House has been given a dramatic makeover – turning the former mansion into a technological paradise.

The grand architectural masterpiece in St Andrew Square, which has been home to the Royal Bank of Scotland since 1835, is now offering customers access to free wifi, iPads and upgraded ATMs in a bid to transform day-to-day banking methods.

While it has retained many of its original elements, including the famous domed ceiling with 120 stars – which appears in all the notes issued by the branch – its traditional bank counter has been removed.

The transformation comes as part of a £450 million investment programme to upgrade the bank’s branches across the UK.

Tomie Cannon, the branch manager, said: “Although an increasing number of our customers are choosing to bank with us over the phone, online or on their mobile, our branch network plays an extremely important part of the service we’re providing to customers.

“The investment we’ve made in the RBS St Andrew Square branch shows we are committed to providing the best banking service to the local community and want to be a central part of the local communities where our branches are based.”

Mr Cannon said the St Andrew Square branch had played a huge role in the bank’s business for decades.

After initially starting life in the mid-18th century as a townhouse for a wealthy city merchant, Sir Lawrence Dundas, the building became the principal office of the Excise in Scotland. In 1835, it was acquired by the Royal Bank of Scotland, which already owned the neighbouring building, 35 St Andrew Square – soon to become home to upmarket serviced apartments.

Since then, 36 St Andrew Square has provided banking services to Edinburgh residents, while also acting as the Royal Bank of Scotland’s headquarters.

Due to the landmark’s history, the Royal Bank of Scotland has said it had worked in collaboration with Historic Scotland to create the new environment, while ensuring the new design was sympathetic to the existing architecture and protected important historical artefacts.

In 1780 Hugo Arnot, a Scottish advocate, writer and campaigner from Leith, described the building as “incomparably the handsomest townhouse we ever saw”.

courtney.cameron@edinburghnews.com