Though it may be off the beaten path in the Welsh countryside, Britain’s Royal Mint is the center of coinage innovation in the United Kingdom, and a world coin producing powerhouse.
When the United Kingdom began a decade-long effort to decimalize its coinage in the 1960s, a growing need for circulating coins led the British Treasury to relocate the Royal Mint to the Welsh countryside.
Amid the Cold War, fears that a London location would come under attack are said to have factored in the move.
Today the threat to the Royal Mint’s position in the global coin business is less sinister, and comes from Canada, Australia, Austria and others, as mints in those countries and others elbow each other in competition for bullion sales, foreign coinage contracts and collector coin market shares.
Take a tour of the Royal Mint’s 35-acre site at Llantrisant, about 10 miles northwest of Cardiff in Wales, as Coin World did last fall, and the enormity of their tasks — and the effort being expended to meet them — becomes crystal clear.
Making our way to the mint
The train ride from central London to Llantrisant takes about two hours — if there are no delays.
Since we were leaving London around 8 p.m., fortunately the journey was swift and arrival was on time. After departing the train in Cardiff and flagging a cab, we made it to a hotel near the Mint to spend the night.
The next morning, after breakfast, we were off to the Mint for an early start.
Though the grounds are surrounded by gates and heavily guarded by Ministry of Defence soldiers, visitors can proceed to a welcome center, where a miniature exhibit currently explores the minting process. During our stop, designs commemorating World War I, as used or proposed for coins and medals, were on display.