Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, announced (2nd November) that the chosen theme for the next generation £50 banknote will be in the field of science, opening the online nomination process to members of the public. Speaking at London’s Science Museum, Governor Carney launched the Bank of England’s website which will accept nominations for the British personality who will appear on the reverse side of the note, expected to be issued after the release of the £20 banknote that is expected to circulate in 2020.
Both the £20 and £50 denominations will also be printed in polymer and follow the issue of the £5 and £10 which have transitioned from paper to plastic in 2015 and 2017. The newly proposed £50 banknote will replace the current “F” series note which features the great industrialists Matthew Boulton and James Watt.
The Governor announced that the theme of the new note will highlight Great Britain’s contributions in the field of science, from astronomy to zoology, and commented:
I am delighted that the new £50 will celebrate the UK’s contribution to science. There is a wealth of individuals whose work has shaped how we think about the world and who continue to inspire people today. Our banknotes are an opportunity to celebrate the diversity of UK society and highlight the contributions of its greatest citizens. My colleagues and I look forward to hearing from the public as they think science and put forward their nominations.
Governor Carney referenced the two smaller denominations, which have already been issued as polymer banknotes, and the upcoming issue of the re-designed £20 note. He touched on their themes by commenting:
The new 50 will complement the celebration of literature on the Austen tenner, statecraft on the Churchill fiver, and the arts on the Turner 20 coming in 2020. With the introduction of the new £50, the nation’s banknotes will honour a wide range of UK achievement.
Concluding the presentation and announcement, Governor Carney also added that a panel of prominent persons would form the Banknote Advisory Panel, which will be joined by four new scientists: Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE, Dr. Emily Grossman, Dr. Simon Singh MBE, and Professor Simon Schaffer. Governor Carney also introduced Maggie Aderin Pocock, a space scientist and familiar voice from the BBC’s Sky at Night, who was on hand to add to the launch.
The future issue of the £50 and that of the upcoming £20 banknotes will form part of latest “G” series, which was first launched with the issue of the £5 denomination in September 2016, followed by the £10 denomination in September 2017. The Bank of England has launched the website which will now accept nominations for the design that will include a prominent personality who has made a significant contribution to the field of science, and has offered some pointers in the nomination process.
Nominate as many people as you like, but anyone who appears on the new £50 note should fulfill the following criteria:
- have contributed to the field of science
- have been an actual person — no fictional characters
- Is no longer living, as only Her Majesty the Queen is the only exception
- have shaped thought, innovation, leadership or values in the UK
- inspire people, not divide them
The suggestions of nominations can be anyone who has contributed to the fields of pure or applied science. These could include astronomy, biology, biotechnology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, medical research, physics, technology, or zoology.
The website was launched on the 2nd November and will be online to accept nominations until Friday, the 14th December 2018. The Bank of England will announce the chosen character in 2019. The announcement of the launch to choose the next person to appear on the reverse of the £50 note follows on speculation that the Bank was considering discontinuing this specific denomination. The Bank later confirmed on the 13th October that the £50 note would remain in circulation and a new “G” series note would be printed using a polymer substrate.
For more information about Bank of England banknotes, please visit their website.