Royal Bank of Scotland £10 note, 1969
After the Second World War, Scotland's banking sector underwent a process of consolidation. In 1945 there were eight note issuing banks in Scotland. By the early 1970s, there were just three. One of the most significant mergers came in 1969, when the Royal Bank of Scotland merged with National Commercial Bank of Scotland. This note is from the so-called 'interim' series, put together quickly as part of merger preparations and drawing elements from both banks' traditional identities.
National Commercial Bank of Scotland itself had only been formed a decade earlier, with the merger of National Bank of Scotland and Commercial Bank of Scotland in 1959. In that merger, the new bank had retained the basic design of National Bank's notes, which depicted the Forth Bridge. The association with this landmark emphasised the bank's Scottish identity. In the aftermath of a major merger, a bridge's symbolic representation of unification and co-operation also had a powerful appeal.
National Commercial Bank of Scotland maintained and developed the bridge theme throughout the 1960s. When the new Forth Road Bridge opened in 1964, the Forth Bridge image was updated to include it. In 1966, National Commercial issued a £10 note for the first time in nearly a century, and created for its reverse a design featuring the new Tay Bridge.
When National Commercial Bank of Scotland merged with the Royal Bank of Scotland in 1969, there was not time to develop elaborate new note designs, so an interim series, borrowing elements from both banks' notes, was introduced. This £10 note, for example, used National Commercial's Tay Bridge illustration on the reverse. On the front, the wording and numbers remained in the National Commercial format, but the name became the Royal Bank of Scotland, and the coat of arms of the Royal Bank was added.
The interim series had metallic strips in all denominations, and magnetic encoding on the £1 and £5, reflecting the growing importance of machines in note-handling. These were also the Royal Bank's first notes to conform to the conventional colouring of notes. From now on, all £1 notes would be primarily green; £5 notes blue; £10 notes brown; and £20 notes purple. £100 notes, which were only issued in Scotland, were red.