Meet the Bank of England’s new fiver

The Bank of England today unveiled a brand new five pound note, the first UK note to be printed on plastic.

Printed on polymer, the new note’s design, revealed by the Bank Governor Mark Carney will feature Sir Winston Churchill.

The note is designed to be cleaner, safer and stronger. Indeed, it is resistant to dirt and moisture and will therefore remain in better condition for longer (the strength of the polymer material means that The New Fiver is expected to last at least 2.5 times longer, to be exact – around 5 years). While that means you can leave your money in your trousers and not worry about the washing machine ruining it, it also means that the note will be harder to counterfeit.

Speaking at Blenheim Palace, Churchill’s place of birth, the Governor said: “The New Fiver will commemorate the achievements of the only Prime Minister to win the Nobel Prize for literature and one of the greatest statesmen of all time – Sir Winston Churchill. As he himself said, ‘a nation that forgets its past has no future’. Our banknotes are repositories of the United Kingdom’s collective
memory and like Churchill, our new polymer notes will stand the test of time.”

The New Fiver’s security features include a see-through window featuring the Queen’s portrait, the Elizabeth Tower (or Big Ben) shown in gold foil on the front of the note and silver on the back, a hologram that contains the word ‘Five’ and changes to ‘Pounds’ when the note is tilted, another hologram of the coronation crown, which appears 3D and multi-coloured when the note is tilted, and a further green foil hologram of the maze at Blenheim Palace, Churchill’s birthplace and ancestral home. Micro-lettering beneath the Queen’s portrait with tiny letters and numbers are also visible under a microscope.

The note was first announced in April 2013, with a design featuring a portrait of Winston Churchill from a photograph taken by Yousuf Karsh on 30 December 1941, a view of Westminster and the Elizabeth Tower from the South Bank, he image of the Elizabeth Tower with the hands of the Great Clock at 3 o’clock – the approximate time on 13 May 1940 when Sir Winston Churchill declared in his first speech as Prime Minister, and a background image of the Nobel Prize medal which he was awarded in 1953 for literature.

The New Fiver will be issued on 13th September 2016, after which point paper £5 notes will be gradually withdrawn from circulation as they are banked by retailers and businesses. The public can continue to spend paper £5
notes as usual until May 2017, after which they will cease to be legal tender.

The new polymer £10 featuring Jane Austen will then enter circulation in summer 2017 followed by the J.M.W. Turner £20 note by 2020.

To help vision impaired people distinguish between denominations the notes retain tiered sizing and include bold numerals and similar colour palettes to the current notes. The polymer £10 and £20 notes will also have a tactile feature created by a series of raised dots – the £5 note will be distinguishable by the absence of this feature.

Photo: Bank of England