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Bank of England reveals Alan Turing as the new face of the £50 note

15th July 2019 11:40

Edmund Greaves from interactive investor

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The Bank of England has picked computer scientist Alan Turing as the new face of the £50 note after thousands of nominations were made by the public

The Bank governor Mark Carney has announced Alan Turing as the new face of the £50 note.

The Bank initially asked the general public for nominations. Four leading scientists worked with a committee to draw up the shortlist.

Mr Carney says the Bank was "overwhelmed by the response" with thousands of nominations from the public. This was then whittled down to a shortlist of 12.

Mr Carney adds: "The shortlist epitomises the breadth and depth of the scientific community in the UK."

Mr Carney says Alan Turing has been selected for the new polymer note because he was "an outstanding mathematician whose work has had an enormous impact on how we live today."

He says: "As the father of computer science and artificial intelligence, as well as war hero, Alan Turing’s contributions were far ranging and path breaking. Turing is a giant on whose shoulders so many now stand.” 

The new notes will be launched at the end of 2021.

The concept image (pictured above) features a photo taken of Alan Turing in 1951 by Elliot & Fry, part of the Photographs Collection at the National Portrait Gallery.

Sarah John, chief cashier, comments: “The strength of the shortlist is testament to the UK’s incredible scientific contribution. 

"The breadth of individuals and achievements reflects the huge range of nominations we received for this note and I would to thank the public for all their suggestions of scientists we could celebrate.” 

The note will also feature a table and mathematical formulae from Turing, technical drawings of the British Bombe, the machine used as one of the primary tools in breaking Enigma-enciphered messages during the Second World War, Turing signature and ticker tape depicting Alan Turing's birth date in binary code.

The note will also feature a quote from Turing himself: “This is only a foretaste of what is to come, and only the shadow of what is going to be.”

The continuation of the £50 note, with a new polymer design, was not always guaranteed. It was earmarked for potential discontinuation by the Chancellor Philip Hammond, back in March 2018. However, it was since given a reprieve, the government announced its intent to print a new polymer note in October 2018.

Mr Carney will be hoping the Bank of England have paid close attention to the new note's design. In May, the Reserve Bank of Australia was left red-faced when it emerged that a typo had crept into its new $50 AUS note. 

This article was originally published in our sister magazine Moneywise, which ceased publication in August 2020.

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