The newly designed Bank of England £50 note depicting Alan Turing’s portrait has entered circulation.
The release date coincides with the birthday of the computer pioneer and wartime codebreaker. It means that the bank’s entire collection of currently printed banknotes is made from plastic for the first time.
£50 and £20 paper notes will no longer be accepted in shops from October next year, although post offices will still exchange them. The Bank of England’s own counter can also exchange old notes for their face value.
The 9breaking gained rare access to the De La Rue banknote printing works in Essex, where the new Bank of England banknote is produced.
As many as five million new banknotes can be produced in a day, and 1.3 billion roll off the machines in a year. Various currencies are produced on the site and the banknotes are shipped to countries around the world.
Despite the decline in cash use for purchases, especially during the pandemic, there is still a growing demand for banknotes. Population growth and hoarding are some of the reasons for the rising need.
The £50 note is the bank’s least used note. Its future has been questioned in the past, with one review describing it as the “currency of corrupt elites, of crime of all kinds and of tax evasion”. However, this year there are still 357 million in circulation, the equivalent of one in thirteen banknotes.
“They’re used more often than people realize,” said Sarah John, the Bank of England’s chief cashier, whose signature is on the note. “A lot of tourist expenditures depend on £50 notes. They are also used as a store of value.
” Withdrawn notes The old paper £50 notes, first issued in 2011, are no longer in production and will be withdrawn from the market at the end of September next year. They include steam engine pioneers James Watt and Matthew Boulton.
Paper £20 notes, depicting economist Adam Smith’s portrait, are withdrawn at the same time. The replacement polymer version, which features artist JMW Turner, went into circulation last February.
The polymer versions should last two and a half times longer than their predecessors, be harder to forge and also have to survive a wash.
Some concerns have been raised about plastic banknotes, from the traces of animal products used in their production, to anecdotal concerns about the banknotes getting stuck in wallets and purses.
Ruth Euling. director of De La Rue Currency, said it was “more challenging” to produce polymer notes, but it made financial sense.
“Making cash more efficient is also an important part of keeping cash alive,” she said. While very few ATMs issue £50 notes, several High Street banks will be issuing the new note at their counters from Wednesday.
The note features and celebrates the work of Alan Turing, trained in Sherborne, Dorset, who helped accelerate Allied efforts to read German Navy messages encrypted with the Enigma machine, thus shortening World War II and saving lives. to rescue.
He also played a vital role in the development of early computers, first at the National Physical Laboratory and later at the University of Manchester. The choice to include him on the bill is also intended to promote diversity.
The Bank will wave the Progress Pride flag over its building in London’s Threadneedle Street on Wednesday to acknowledge improvements since his appalling treatment by the state for homosexuality.
In 2013, he received a posthumous royal pardon for his 1952 conviction for gross indecency. He was arrested after having an affair with a 19-year-old man from Manchester, and was forced to take female hormones as an alternative to prison. He died at the age of 41.
An inquest registered his death as suicide. In keeping with his work, the new note includes security features similar to other notes, such as holograms, see-through windows – based in part on images of the wartime codebreaking center at Bletchley Park – and foil patches.
British intelligence GCHQ has also unveiled an artwork of Alan Turing’s portrait in the wheels of the codebreaking British Bombe machine, placed in the center of headquarters to celebrate his legacy. Jeremy Fleming, director of GCHQ, said:
“Alan Turing was a genius who helped shorten the war and influence the technology that still shapes our lives.” Snapchat has also made a history of its work that can be viewed through augmented reality.