10½ The Square - Orb's Bookshop

In a prime position in Huntly’s main Square, sits the former Royal Bank of Scotland building which HDT purchased and brought into community ownership in 2019 after the bank closed its doors in 2018.

This building has an interesting history, part of it (the right-hand side when viewed externally) had been the Commercial Bank of Scotland since around 1919. The left-hand side was a shop. Later, when the National Commercial Bank (Established 1959) joined with RBS in 1969, the branch moved to Duke Street and the property in the Square was extended into the former shop premises and refurbished. It then returned to its refurbished premises in the Square in 1974 until it closed in 2018.

Closure of banks across the UK has presented towns with many practical issues; the expectation that everyone is able to access their accounts digitally and not having personal advisors or easy access to cash being just some of them. The additional impact has been the further depletion of footfall to town centres, so HDT saw this acquisition as a way to help bring footfall back into the town and, as this bookshop also hosts advisors from the main banks one day a week, this has also been a way of addressing an issue affecting community members. Funding from The Scottish Land Fund, along with HDT money, enabled the building to be purchased, and the Aberdeenshire Council Town Centre Fund allocated funding for its refurbishment.

The internal condition of the building was poor as little upgrading had happened since its refurbishment in 1974.

An added challenge was completing this building work during the pandemic year, 2020, however, with careful planning, this was completed by December 2020 and Orb’s bookshop opened in February 2021.

The lovely building now provides the community bookshop, with plenty of storage, accessible toilets, and the vital, high speed broadband throughout and a large screen with VOIP connectivity in the meeting room.

Orb’s is an established community bookshop run by a team of 24 dedicated volunteers and which, over and above selling books, host many events and activities to encourage reading across all age groups and abilities and writers from near and far. This lovely bookshop is well worth a visit when you’re in Huntly.


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