Originally built in the early 1800s as a hotel, 42 St Andrew Square, the site on which The Edinburgh Grand & The Register Club now stands, was bought in 1825 by the National Bank of Scotland.
By 1848, it had acquired and expanded into the building immediately adjacent. Between the two World Wars, The National Bank of Scotland sought to elevate their status by commissioning award winning London architects Mewes & Davis (working alongside Leslie Grahame Thomson), to design a new building to be built on the site of 41-42 St Andrew Square. The result was an impressive and grand building in the classical idiom which was fashionable in London at that time.
Work began in 1936 and exotic materials were sourced from around the globe; American elm, Mexican pine, Honduran mahogany and English oak were fashioned into elaborate wood panelling by master cabinetmakers, Whytock & Reid.
The decorative panels on the magnificent oak entrance doors are among the best of the carved work which is present today and feature the design of coins of which the majority were historic and out of currency. The renowned artist Sadie F McLellan was given the task of creating themed etched glass panels and windows. These decorative glass panels that can be seen in the banking hall are evocative of the era and are beautifully executed. They depict the commercial interests and customer base of the Bank in supporting a diverse economy from agriculture, fisheries, shipping, architecture, education, engineering, weaving, and printing, recalling the sculptures of a century or so earlier on the skyline of the British Linen Bank.
It was important to them that it should conform and harmonize with similar buildings in the vicinity, those for instance erected by the famous Scottish architect, Robert Adam, who in the eighteenth century had designed the façade of Edinburgh University and many fine buildings in Charlotte Square and elsewhere in the city. Completed in 1942, the building is a fine example of impressive neoclassical architecture. With wonderful views and a beautiful art deco banking hall, it served as the headquarters for the National Bank, the National Commercial, and then the Royal Bank of Scotland, until 2006.