Paper Money

Bank of England’s next £50 bank note to celebrate UK’s scientists

A scientist will be featured on the Bank of England’s next £50 note, but it will be up to the public to help decide who that should be. The selectee will join Sir Winston Churchill on the £5 bank note, author Jane Austen on the £10 note, and artist J.M.W. Turner on the upcoming £20 bank note.

The announcement was made at the Science Museum, where Governor Mark Carney said, “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.” 

The bank said in a press release that members of the public have until Dec. 14 to nominate a historical character who has contributed to science and influenced society in the United Kingdom. They could have worked in any field of science, including astronomy, biology, bio-technology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, medical research, physics, technology, or zoology.

Requirements are that nominees have contributed to the field of science; were real people, not fictitious; not be alive; have shaped thought, innovation, leadership or values in the country; and inspired people, rather than divided them. Citizens can make as many nominations as they wish on the website the bank has set up. It has also provided a worksheet for schools and students to design their own banknote and share it.

The bank says its decision will be based on the character’s strengths, not the number of nominations anyone receives. It also considers who it has portrayed in the past, as it wants to make sure a wide diversity of people and fields are featured on its currency.

Carney also announced the appointment of four experts in the field of science to the Banknote Character Advisory Committee. They will join the permanent members of the committee to create a shortlist from those proposed by the public. The governor will then make a choice from that list with a final decision to be announced in the summer of 2019 at the same time as a concept design for the new note. The £50 polymer note will enter circulation after the £20 is issued in 2020. 

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