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175 Years

175 years of helping home owners and savers 

At Scottish Building Society, we've been serving our members for 175 years and are proud to be the oldest remaining building society in the world. Having always operated as a mutual society - owned by and run for the benefit of our members, we've never deviated from our original purpose of helping people save money to help others buy homes. 

Thank you for your continued support

"Although times may have changed since 1848, our mission to help our members save money and buy their home has remained consistent. I'm incredibly proud to lead our team as we celebrate a momentous milestone in Scottish Building Society’s history, reflecting on our achievements whilst also embracing a new chapter. 

“The trust in our services from our members is what keeps the society alive, and we're incredibly grateful for their longstanding support. This year, we’re looking forward to celebrating 175 years of Scottish Building Society with members, community groups and local charities."

Paul Denton, CEO at Scottish Building Society

We commissioned the Edinburgh Maker, Hannah Lavery, to write a poem for us to commemorate this fantastic milestone.
Hannah perfectly captured our unique history, bringing our story to life in a heart warming poem called '175 Years of Scottish Building Society' and read it aloud to members at our AGM.


Watch Hannah read our poem below

A brief history of Scottish Building Society


We're the world’s oldest surviving building society. Founded in Edinburgh in 1848 as the Edinburgh Friendly Property Investment Company. We're the oldest remaining building society in the world and the only building society with headquarters in Scotland.


Photo: Princes Street Gardens in 1848


When several fathers of Edinburgh’s mercantile class set up their mutual society, its aim was to lend to ‘respectable merchants and master tradesmen’ on the security of their homes and business properties. It would also provide a safe haven for the savings of members and would pay dividends to members and interest to savers.


Photo: Model housing financed by early Scottish building societies and built in Stockbridge in Edinburgh from the 1860s onwards.


The stock of building societies was diminished during the First World War as it was made clear to the nation that it was their patriotic duty to support the government’s fund raising activities for the war effort.

Loans were still approved during the Second World War. The Society rewarded loyalty, applauded self-help and appreciated the helping hand of family members. In 1944 the Society approved a loan of £400 for the Harvatt family who wanted to buy a £600 flat in Bruntsfield Terrace.


The AGM in 1948 was hailed as the ‘Centenary Year’ of the Society. A dinner was held in Edinburgh’s North British Hotel to celebrate and new offices were purchased at No. 4 York Place.


Photo: The Society celebrated its centenary in 1948.


Chairman at the time, Peter Brown, suggested the Society should establish a branch in Troon, it was a larger town that he believed held a lot of potential. Our first branch opened there in 1977. 


Photo: Portland Street, Troon, c.1960.


When the Society celebrated its 150th anniversary, the Galashiels branch received a letter from a local member who had joined Galashiels Provident in 1957.

‘In all that time, I have never had one cause for complaint with any transactions I have made. The Galashiels branch on Bank Street has a staff of four, all ladies, of whom nothing is any trouble. Their cheery disposition makes my weekly visits something to look forward to. As well as conducting their business in an efficient manner, they always have time to pass the time of day with the customers. If all the other branches in Scotland have the pleasant and courteous manner of this branch, I would recommend the Scottish Building Society to anyone'. 


Photo: As the Society celebrated its 150th anniversary on 16 March 1998. 


It was rare for women to be granted mortgages in their own name before the 1970s. Many women,  never had their own bank account. For married women, financial affairs were invariably dealt with by their husbands alone. However, we took a different view in line with our principles of honesty, fairness, integrity and policy of judging every mortgage application on its merits and approved loans allowing women to secure their homes. 


Photo: Galashiels, a major commercial centre for the Scottish Borders. Advert in The Scotsman, late 19th century.


By the 2000s, we offered a wide range of mortgages and savings products that were designed to help people with different financial needs and goals. Self-build, lifetime and guesthouse mortgages were all added to our portfolio.


Today we offer a wide range of savings and mortgage products that are regularly reviewed to meet our members’ needs.

Our personal and flexible approach means we consider personal circumstances and needs when underwriting mortgages.

We know our members like to engage with us in different ways, so whether that's face to face in our newly refurbished relationship centres or through the convenience of going online, we can accommodate every preference.

As we celebrate our 175th anniversary, as the world’s oldest surviving building society we recognise, above all else, that bettering lives, creating opportunities and building society comes through putting people first.


Giving back to communities has been part of our ethos since we were established in 1848, and as we celebrate our 175th anniversary we're proud to have launched the Scottish Building Society Foundation in partnership with Foundation Scotland.


To celebrate our 175th Anniversary we're aiming to support 175 school pupils through a maths programme with Edinburgh Rugby. The aim of the initiative is to show pupils how often maths is used outside of the classroom. 

Helping others prepare for future financial needs early on is something we're committed to and therefore makes this is a fantastic initiative to support.

Click here to find out more


If you'd like to know more about our fascinating history, Historian Nigel Watson created an exciting book to tell our story. Our history and heritage is something we are extremely proud to share. 

If you'd like to read the book click here:

If you'd like a physical copy, there are some available in our Relationship Centres, subject to availability.