News & Blog

New faces for the £50 note!

Posted on Sat, 30 May 2009 by Phil Mussell - General News, Banknote News

Further to the design of a new £20 two years ago the Bank of England has just announced that the £50 is also due an overhaul with not one but two historical figures featuring on it.

The Bank of England issued the Following press release on May 29

"The renowned 18th century business partnership of entrepreneur Matthew Boulton and engineer
James Watt provides the historical figures to be portrayed on the Bank of England’s redesigned
£50 banknotes. Bank of England Governor, Mervyn King, made the announcement this evening
when he opened a new exhibition at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery: ‘Matthew
Boulton: Selling what all the world desires’.
Commenting on the choice, the Governor said, “Just as the Bank of England plays an essential
role in the economy as the United Kingdom’s central bank, so too did Boulton and Watt’s steam
engines and their many other innovations as essential factors in the nation’s Industrial Revolution.
So many of the advantages society now enjoys are due in large part to the vital role of engineering
and the brilliance and foresight of people such as Boulton and Watt whose development and
refinement of steam engines gave an incredible boost to the efficiency of industry.”
“The unique and rare opportunity that the Bank has through its banknotes to acknowledge and
promote awareness of our nation’s heritage of artistic, social and scientific endeavour is an honour
for us. The Bank’s choice of Boulton and Watt, a reminder of the invaluable contribution from
engineering and the entrepreneurial spirit to the advancement of society, I think, well reflects
The Boulton and Watt £50 banknote, to be launched in around eighteen months time, will be the
second note in the Series F ‘family’which began with the introduction of the Adam Smith £20
note in 2007. Therefore its overall appearance will be similar. But for the first time two portraits
will appear together on the reverse of the note, those of Boulton and Watt, along with the image of
a steam engine and the Soho (Birmingham) Manufactory. As with the Adam Smith £20 banknote however, continuity is provided with the current portrait of Her Majesty The Queen, which was
first used in 1990 and which will be retained on the front of the note. Further details of the design
and the range of security features to be included on the new note will be revealed when the new
note is launched, within a full promotion and awareness campaign.
Andrew Bailey, the Bank’s Executive Director – Banking Services and Chief Cashier, whose
signature appears on Bank of England banknotes, also attended the Birmingham exhibition
opening. Commenting on the plans for the new £50 banknote, he said, “Not only am I delighted
with the proposed design for the banknote but I am pleased too that the Bank has the opportunity
again to introduce advances in anti-counterfeiting measures which have come on stream.”
As new-design banknotes are introduced so the notes they replace are withdrawn - although they
can always be exchanged at the Bank of England for their face value. The Boulton and Watt £50
banknote will therefore circulate in tandem with the current £50 banknote first introduced in 1994.
This earlier note, which features Sir John Houblon, the first Governor of the Bank of England, will
be gradually withdrawn from circulation with the final date for its status as legal tender to be
announced in due course.
Notes to Editors
1. An image of the concept design for the reverse of the new note, for media use only, and
restricted to illustration of this story only, is available on the Bank's website.
NB Publication of the image is also EMBARGOED to 19:00 hrs BST.
You will need to contact the Bank's Press Office on 020 7601 4411 to obtain login details. After
6pm your call will be forwarded to the Press Officer on duty.
2. The design includes separate portraits of Boulton and Watt, developed from images held by the
Bank of England (Bank of England copyright). The image of the Soho Manufactory, where
Boulton produced small metalware and which became the first steam-powered mint and another,
of the Whitbread steam engine designed by Boulton and Watt and installed by Samuel Whitbread
in his London brewery, are worked from images owned by Birmingham City Council. Permission
to use these two images was kindly given by the Council"

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