Today, Governor Andrew Bailey unveils the design of the new £50 banknote featuring the scientist Alan Turing. He will be joined by Stephen Fry and Dr Simon Singh, who will reflect on the note, and the choice to feature Alan Turing on it. Following its public unveil today, the polymer £50 will be issued for the first time on 23 June 2021, which coincides with Alan Turing’s birthday.
The polymer £50 note contains advanced security features, completing our most secure set of Bank of England polymer banknotes yet. The note, like the £20, incorporates two windows and a two-colour foil, making it very difficult to counterfeit. There is also a hologram image which changes between the words ‘Fifty’ and ‘Pounds’ when tilting the note from side to side.
One of the benefits shared by all our polymer banknotes is that they last longer than paper notes and they stay in better condition during their use. This note, like the polymer £10 and £20 will contain a tactile feature to help vision impaired people identify the denomination.
The polymer £50 note will join the Churchill £5, the Austen £10 and the Turner £20, meaning all Bank of England banknotes are now available in polymer. The public will begin to see the new £50 from 23 June 2021 as the notes enter general circulation. The public can continue to use paper £50 notes as usual. Notice will be given at least six months ahead of the date when the old paper £50 is withdrawn.
Commenting on the new note, Governor Andrew Bailey said: “There’s something of the character of a nation in its money, and we are right to consider and celebrate the people on our banknotes. So I’m delighted that our new £50 features one of Britain’s most important scientists, Alan Turing. Turing is best known for his codebreaking work at Bletchley Park, which helped end the Second World War. However in addition he was a leading mathematician, developmental biologist, and a pioneer in the field of computer science. He was also gay, and was treated appallingly as a result. By placing him on our new polymer £50 banknote, we are celebrating his achievements, and the values he symbolises”.
The new £50 note will feature the signature of Sarah John, the Bank’s Chief Cashier. She said: “This new £50 note completes our set of polymer banknotes. These are much harder to counterfeit, and with its security features the new £50 is part of our most secure series of banknotes yet. These security features are common across all our banknotes, so if you can check one, you can check them all.”
Director of GCHQ Jeremy Fleming said: “Alan Turing’s appearance on the £50 note is a landmark moment in our history. Not only is it a celebration of his scientific genius which helped to shorten the war and influence the technology we still use today, it also confirms his status as one of the most iconic LGBT+ figures in the world. Turing was embraced for his brilliance and persecuted for being gay. His legacy is a reminder of the value of embracing all aspects of diversity, but also the work we still need to do to become truly inclusive.”
A photo of Turing taken in 1951 by Elliott & Fry which is part of the Photographs Collection at the National Portrait Gallery. A table and mathematical formulae from Turing’s seminal 1936 paper “On Computable Numbers, with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem” Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society. This paper is widely recognised as being foundational for computer science. It sought to establish whether there could be a definitive method by which any theorem could be assessed as provable or not using a universal machine. It introduced the concept of a Turing machine as a thought experiment of how computers could operate.