Friday, 30 October 2009

Scottish Banking(part 21)

The year 1820 was a period of great political unrest;
and rioting took place in Glasgow which necessitated
the provision of protection for the Royal Bank,which
then occupied the building afterwards converted into
the Royal Exchange. Fears were entertained that
the bank would be plundered by the mob, and a cap-
tain’s guard of the Glasgow Sharpshooters was for
more than a week quartered in the wings of the bank
buildings, with triple sentries at the gates, while vid-
ettes moved briskly along Queen and Ingram Streets.
A company of that regiment was on duty at the bank
on the night the news came to Glasgow of the skirmish
at Bonnymuir between the hussars and yeomanry
and the Radicals ; and there was great excitement
in the town lest the mills might be set on fire.

Another company lay in St. George’s Church ; a third
in the Trades Hall, Glassford Street; and a fourth in
the Laigh Kirk session-house, all on the alert. The rest
of the regiment was posted with the Colonel (Hun-
ter) and Major (Alston) elsewhere.

Mention of the Royal Bank and the Royal Exchange
leads to the inclusion of the following anecdotes :—

There was a custom, although not quite general,
of giving tradesmen an allowance for drinking at the
erection of a dwelling—house or other premises. This
was carried out to its fullest extent—and far beyond
it—at the building of the Royal Exchange about
1829-30. The tradesmen had already received small sums
during the progress of the work; and, when the interior
of the building was getting near to completion,all the
floors being laid down, a general invitation was sent
to all the men who were still employed at the build-
ing to the effect that a dinner was to be given them on
such a day, at two o’clock, and to come in their work-
ing clothes. The large new room had been fitted up
with seats and tables formed of clean planks. The
men came punctual to the hour—ready for dinner ;
and as every man took his seat he was supplied with
a glass of spirits, and then a tumbler of porter.

 A most substantial dinner was set before them,and
while partaking of it ,waiters were busy supplying
them with spirits and porter, which the men took
 without thinking of the consequences.
Immediately after dinner most of the building
committee and some of the contractors, who were
seated on a raised platform, began to give toasts,
while busy waiters filled the men's glasses and
 tumblers to enable them to respond. The result
was that by about four o’clock the whole of the
men had risen from the tables, and were " stotterin "
about in a state of hilarious excitement, more or less,
according to temperament. The whole affair had been
a plot to bring this about, taking advantage of the men
being invited to dinner. Some of the men felt indig-
nant, others were ashamed ; the majority were well
satisfied, and collected next day round a barrel of porter
to finish a quantity of liquor that still remained of
the abundant supply provided for the occasion.

During the progress of the building a very peculiar
case of theft took place, which might have been a

more to follow........

No comments:

Post a Comment