The 50p, Decimalisation and UK Currency

Decimalisation

The 50p entered circulation in readiness for the decimal switchover. Britain’s coinage system had remained unchanged for centuries but a number of Commonwealth countries such as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa had already gone decimal. The momentum was firmly for change and in 1966 parliament decided that Britain should follow suit. Within five years the nation’s ancient system of coinage would be consigned to the history books.

Under the old system there were 20 shillings in £1, 12 pennies in 1 shilling and 240 pennies in £1, making decimalisation a huge undertaking both in terms of production of new coins and the overarching publicity required. People were used to way things were and change never comes easy.

Information campaigns ran frequently to help avoid confusion. Leaflets were posted through letterboxes, posters were put up in windows and television broadcasts scheduled to explain the new system. The BBC broadcast a series of five-minute programmes known as Decimal Five, while on ITV an elderly woman was taught to use the new decimal system by her grandson in Granny Gets The Point.

Decimalisation

The 50p entered circulation in readiness for the decimal switchover. Britain’s coinage system had remained unchanged for centuries but a number of Commonwealth countries such as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa had already gone decimal. The momentum was firmly for change and in 1966 parliament decided that Britain should follow suit. Within five years the nation’s ancient system of coinage would be consigned to the history books.

Under the old system there were 20 shillings in £1, 12 pennies in 1 shilling and 240 pennies in £1, making decimalisation a huge undertaking both in terms of production of new coins and the overarching publicity required. People were used to way things were and change never comes easy.

Information campaigns ran frequently to help avoid confusion. Leaflets were posted through letterboxes, posters were put up in windows and television broadcasts scheduled to explain the new system. The BBC broadcast a series of five-minute programmes known as Decimal Five, while on ITV an elderly woman was taught to use the new decimal system by her grandson in Granny Gets The Point.

 

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Decimalisation was the subject of passionate debate for centuries.  Rationale presented by decimal enthusiasts was opposed by those who were cautious of the effects of a new decimal coinage system.  Find out more in the story of the Decimal Debate.

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