50p Culture Set | The Royal Mint

50 years of the 50p

British Culture Set

Celebrate Half a Century for Britain’s Most Collectable Coin  

The 50th Anniversary of the First Sub-Four-Minute Mile

Roger Bannister and his rival John Landy had both been threatening to break the four-minute mark for the mile. On 6 May 1954, the British medical student beat the Australian to the magic number. Conditions at the Iffley Road track in Oxford were far from ideal. Bannister nearly called off his attempt due to the gusting crosswinds but thankfully he changed his mind. Careful planning made a tilt at the record possible. Lead out by pacemakers Chris Brasher and Chris Chattaway, 200 metres from home, Bannister kicked for the line, taking the tape in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. 3,000 jubilant spectators witnessed a piece of history in the making.

What was happening that year – 2004

The summer Olympics were held in Athens, the government announced plans to introduce university tuition fees, ten new countries joined the European Union, heads of state gathered to mark the 60th anniversary of D-Day and we said goodbye to Hollywood legend Marlon Brando who died aged 80

The 100th Anniversary of the Founding of the Scouting Movement

The scouting movement was founded in Britain in 1907 by Robert Baden-Powell, a cavalry officer. He hoped to instil in boys aged 11–14 a sense of resourcefulness and a code of chivalrous behaviour. To become a scout, a boy would promise to be loyal to his country, help others and obey the Scout law. Originally a British movement, Baden-Powell’s idea took off all over the world. Today there are scouting organisations in more than 170 different countries adhering to the famous motto, ‘be prepared’.

What was happening that year – 2007

The first total lunar eclipse in more than three years brought skywatchers out of their homes, Gordon Brown delivered his last budget as Chancellor of the Exchequer, the UK summer was one of the wettest on record and scientists discovered kryptonite – sadly it wasn’t green and glowing like in the Superman movies.

The 100th Anniversary of the Founding of the Girl Guides

By 1910 Robert Baden-Powell’s scouting movement was taking off all over the world, so he asked his sister Agnes to start a similar group for girls. Through a mixture of fun, adventure and friendship the movement has inspired each new generation to face the challenging of growing up and to be the best they can be. The trefoil logo represents the threefold promise of the Guides – ‘I promise that I will do my best, to be true to myself and develop my beliefs, to serve the Queen and my community, to help other people and to keep the Guide Law.’

What was happening that year – 2010

Britain shivered in the longest cold snap for 30 years, Kathryn Bigelow become the first woman to win best director at the Oscars for The Hurt Locker, ash from a volcanic eruption in Iceland grounded flights for several days and the general election gave us a hung parliament, necessitating a Conservative-led coalition.

The 250th Anniversary of the Founding of Kew Gardens

Just 210,000 Kew Gardens 50p coins were released into circulation, making it the rarest 50p design. Much hyped among the collecting community, the coin itself marked the 250th anniversary of the founding of this venerable institution, the country’s most famous royal botanical garden. The reverse design, created by Christopher Le Brun RA, features the famous Chinese Pagoda at Kew with a decorative leafy climber twining in and around the tower.

What was happening that year – 2009

Matt Smith was named as the new Doctor Who, the UK suffered its worst snowfall for 20 years and after an online campaign, Rage Against the Machine’s Killing in the Name beat X Factor winner Joe McElderry’s The Climb to the Christmas number one spot.


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