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Our History

We’re the oldest remaining building society in the world

We opened in 1848 and one of our founding principles was being a member owned organisation. We’re proud to be a mutual society and we’re still owned by and run for our members. Today, our principal purpose is to help people buy their homes with funds raised from our members’ savings accounts.

Scotland and the world in 1848

1848 was the year that Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited Balmoral and initiated the love of all things Scottish throughout the burgeoning Empire. It was also the year that the Caledonian Railway provided the first through carriages between Scotland and England.


When several august 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.

THE 1920S AND 1930S

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.


On the eve of the Second World War, figures revealed that the number and value of mortgages had more than doubled in the decade. There were 460 advances valued at £156,000.


The AGM in 1948 was described as the 74th such meeting and it was also hailed as the ‘Centenary’ 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.


The 1970s were marked by poor performance in the British economy and a rapid increase in prices. It took until the 1990s before inflation was reduced to manageable levels. Scottish Building Society continued to expand via merger, developing a presence across Scotland.


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.


The aftermath of the financial crisis resulted in significant regulatory change across the UK financial system. That meant the Society had to invest heavily in systems and people to carry on meeting the needs of our members. We also had to make sure the Financial Conduct Authority were confident we had the necessary systems and processes in place that had been lacking in those institutions which had recently failed.


We’re committed to supporting worthy causes in Scottish communities and embracing diversity. Members are given a vote to choose which charities we’ll support. And our colleagues are encouraged to help out, either by donating their time for charity work or through their own fund-raising.

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.

Our savings products are designed to help our members reach their financial goals, whether that’s saving for something special or putting money away for the future.