A bright, sunny day allowed RBS staff to leave the door open for customers arriving at the bank’s Bridge Street branch in Wick yesterday.
But the weather contrasted sharply with the downbeat atmosphere on what marked the last day of the bank’s long history in the ancient royal burgh.
Wick was included in the hit list of 62 branches which the RBS announced in December were facing the axe. Since then, 10, including Kyle of Lochalsh and Tongue, have been put on the back burner pending a review.
Yesterday’s closure of Wick was among the first carried out by the bank whose chief executive Ross McEwan has come under heavy fire over the cuts.
Caithness civic leader, Highland Councillor Willie Mackay described it as a sad day for Wick.
He said: “It’s very sad to see and it will leave another large, empty building in the centre of the town.
“The council and others fought hard to get the bank to change its mind but it decreed that the branch did not have a future.”
The history of the branch in Wick can be traced through the Caithness Banking Company and the Commercial Bank to the early 19th century.
The nearest alternative RBS bank is 21 miles away in Thurso, with most personal and business customers having taken their custom to either the Clydesdale Bank or Bank of Scotland in Wick.
The closure is understood to involve a handful of job losses though the bank was yesterday unable to give any details on this. The staff were not authorised to speak to the press.
A RBS spokesman said yesterday: “ We have taken the difficult decision to close the branch in Wick.
“We provide our customers with more ways to bank than ever before – customers can choose from a range of digital, face-to-face and local options.
“Since 2012 we have seen the way in which people use the Wick branch change dramatically, with now 84 per cent of customers already banking in other ways locally.
“Transactions in the branch have reduced by 23 per cent since 2012 with now only 56 customers visiting the branch on a weekly basis and more than half choosing to bank digitally with us on a regular basis instead.”