Alan Turing £50 note enters circulation on codebreaker's birthday

23 June 2021, 09:20 | Updated: 23 June 2021, 10:52

Governor of the Bank of England Andrew Bailey showed off the new £50 note.
Governor of the Bank of England Andrew Bailey showed off the new £50 note. Picture: PA

By Emma Soteriou

The Alan Turing £50 banknote has now begun entering circulation, coinciding with the codebreaker's birthday.

The new polymer note will be available in banks and ATMs in coming weeks, joining the Sir Winston Churchill £5, the Jane Austen £10 and the JMW Turner £20.

Born on 23 June 1912, Mr Turing studied mathematics at King's College, University of Cambridge.

He was part of an Enigma research section working at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire and is considered by some as the father of computer science after playing a key role in breaking the Enigma code.

Breaking the code was said to have helped shorten the Second World War by at least two years.

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Mr Turing still inspires scientists with his work today, having helped lay the foundations for modern-day PCs, laptops and smartphones.

His "Turing test" also examined the behaviour necessary for a machine to be considered intelligent, which was the foundation for artificial intelligence.

Speaking at Bletchley Park, Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said: "Our banknotes celebrate some of our country's most important historical figures.

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"That's why I am delighted that Alan Turing features on the new polymer £50 note.

"Having undertaken remarkable codebreaking work here at Bletchley Park during the Second World War, he went on to pioneer work on early computers, as well as making some groundbreaking discoveries in the field of developmental biology.

Snapchat released a lens to celebrate the new £50 note.
Snapchat released a lens to celebrate the new £50 note. Picture: PA

"He was also gay and was treated appallingly as a result. Placing him on this new banknote is a recognition of his contributions to our society, and a celebration of his remarkable life."

To celebrate the occasion, Snapchat have created an augmented reality (AR) lens that brings the banknote to life.

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The Bank of England's Chief Cashier, Sarah John, said: "The polymer £50 note is the most secure Bank of England banknote yet, and the features of the note make it very difficult to counterfeit.

"All of our polymer banknotes can be checked by looking for two key security features: a hologram which changes image; and see-through windows. So, if you can check one denomination of banknote, you can check them all.

"The new £50 notes, like the polymer £10 and £20 notes, contain a tactile feature to help vision impaired people identify the denomination."

The Bank of England also revealed that 30 September 2022 will be the last day people can use its paper £20 and £50 notes.

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The £50 note has lost more than three-quarters of its buying power.
The £50 note has lost more than three-quarters of its buying power. Picture: PA

Despite the new note entering circulation, a finance expert said £50 notes lost £38 of their buying power over the past 40 years.

Sarah Coles, a personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, explained: "£50 isn't what it used to be.

"If you had a modern £50 note when it was first issued in March 1981, and kept it under the mattress ever since, it would have lost more than three-quarters of its buying power.

"However, if you'd put it to work (by investing it) it could have grown to around £2,300."