Introduction to our history | RBS Heritage Hub

RBS heritage hub


Through time

Fast facts is a quick tour of landmark events, focusing on the history of the Royal Bank of Scotland itself.

More detailed information about each of our historical constituent businesses, including those that made up NatWest, is available through our index of companies

For a broad overview of the historical contexts that shaped all our banks over the centuries, choose a datespan below. 

Explore RBS history in 100 objects
Add your signposting title here… Before 1700

The 17th century saw the emergence in London of Britain's first generation of goldsmith-bankers, while in Scotland the ill-fated Company of Scotland paved the way for the subsequent foundation of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

More on Before 1700
Add your signposting title here… 1700-1740

In 1727 the Royal Bank of Scotland was established as Scotland's second bank; a unique departure in banking at that time.

More on 1700 - 1740
Add your signposting title here… 1740-1780

The middle years of the 18th century were a time of instability and conflict in Scotland, but at the same time the nation was developing a uniquely stable banking system that would go on to be widely admired and imitated.

More on 1740 - 1780
Add your signposting title here… 1780-1820

As the Industrial Revolution gathered pace, banks became more important than ever. Small, often unstable, partnership banks proliferated in England and Wales, while Scotland's much-admired multi-bank system continued to develop.

More on 1780 - 1820
Add your signposting title here… 1820-1860

After a series of damaging crises, the government changed English and Welsh law to emulate Scotland's more stable banking system.

More on 1820 - 1860
Add your signposting title here… 1860-1890

Banks' branch networks expanded, and the Royal Bank undertook its first acquisition. Meanwhile, Scottish-trained bank clerks became sought-after workers all over the world.

More on 1860 - 1890
Add your signposting title here… 1890-1920

Many mergers took place in the banking sector in these years. International trade became a greater concern, despite the temporary halt caused by the First World War. Women joined the banking workforce for the first time.

More on 1890 - 1920
Add your signposting title here… 1920-1950

All banks began to seek a broader range of customers, including small savers. The Royal Bank expanded rapidly, thanks to major acquisitions in England. Just as a generation earlier, war took its toll on all areas of life.

More on 1920 - 1950
Add your signposting title here… 1950-1980

Banks began to offer a much wider range of products, including insurance, mortgages and personal loans. The biggest bank merger since the end of the First World War saw the creation of NatWest.

More on 1950 - 1980
Add your signposting title here… 1980-date

The Royal Bank of Scotland grew rapidly through the 1980s and 1990s, and in 2000 acquired NatWest. Later the bank made a series of bad mistakes which culminated in the crisis of 2008. Since then, the bank has been working to put things right.

More on 1980 - date
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