Alan Turing banknote will enter circulation from June 23
By Vicky Shaw, PA Personal Finance Correspondent
The Alan Turing £50 banknote will be issued for the first time on June 23 2021, which coincides with his birthday, the Bank of England has confirmed.
The announcement was made as the Bank unveiled the design of the new polymer £50 note, which contains advanced security features.
The note will join the Sir Winston Churchill £5, the Jane Austen £10 and the JMW Turner £20, meaning all Bank of England banknotes will be available in polymer, which lasts longer than paper.
Often considered to be the father of computer science, Mr Turing played a pivotal role in breaking the Enigma code and his legacy has a lasting impact on the way we live today.
Born on June 23 1912, Mr Turing studied mathematics at King’s College, University of Cambridge, gaining a first-class honours degree in 1934. He was elected a Fellow of the College.
In 1936 his work On Computable Numbers is seen as giving birth to the idea of how computers could operate.
His “Turing test” also examined the behaviour necessary for a machine to be considered intelligent – the foundation for artificial intelligence.
Perhaps Mr Turing’s best-known achievement was his role in cracking the Enigma code.
It has been said this helped to shorten the length of the Second World War by at least two years – saving millions of lives.
The note, like the £20, incorporates two windows and a two-colour foil, making it very difficult to counterfeit, the Bank said.
There is also a hologram image which changes between the words Fifty and Pounds when tilting the note from side to side.
The new note, like the polymer £10 and £20, will contain a tactile feature to help vision impaired people identify the denomination.
People can still continue to use paper £50 notes as usual and notice will be given at least six months ahead of the date when the old paper £50 is withdrawn, the Bank said.
Bank governor Andrew Bailey said: “There’s something of the character of a nation in its money, and we are right to consider and celebrate the people on our banknotes.
“So I’m delighted that our new £50 features one of Britain’s most important scientists, Alan Turing.
“Turing is best known for his codebreaking work at Bletchley Park, which helped end the Second World War. However, in addition he was a leading mathematician, developmental biologist, and a pioneer in the field of computer science. He was also gay, and was treated appallingly as a result.
“By placing him on our new polymer £50 banknote, we are celebrating his achievements, and the values he symbolises.”
The new £50 note will feature the signature of Sarah John, the Bank’s chief cashier.
She said: “This new £50 note completes our set of polymer banknotes. These are much harder to counterfeit, and with its security features the new £50 is part of our most secure series of banknotes yet. These
security features are common across all our banknotes, so if you can check one, you can check them all.”
The Bank of England has collaborated with GCHQ on the intelligence and cyber agency’s “toughest puzzle ever” – based on the Turing £50 banknote design. GCHQ’s Turing Challenge, a set of 12 puzzles, has been put together by intelligence staff at GCHQ.
Director of GCHQ Jeremy Fleming said: “Alan Turing’s appearance on the £50 note is a landmark moment in our history. Not only is it a celebration of his scientific genius which helped to shorten the war and influence the technology we still use today, it also confirms his status as one of the most iconic LGBT+ figures in the world.
“Turing was embraced for his brilliance and persecuted for being gay. His legacy is a reminder of the value of embracing all aspects of diversity, but also the work we still need to do to become truly inclusive.”