A new plastic £5 note featuring Sir Winston Churchill has been introduced into UK circulation by the Bank of England.
Designed to be longer-lasting than its paper predecessor, the old notes will start to be withdrawn. Here’s five things you maybe didn’t know about the new fiver.
£1. Long life lucre
The first print-run of 440 million new fivers are, according to the Bank of England, stronger, cleaner and safer than paper notes, lasting around five years longer. They will even survive a washing machine spin
The new notes contain new security features, making them harder to counterfeit - including a see-through window with the Queen’s portrait, plus Big Ben in gold foil on the front of the note and in silver on the back. To help vision-impaired people tell the difference between denominations, the new notes will have similar colouring to existing ones as well as bold numerals. The fiver is the first in a series of new polymer notes to be introduced, but will not feature raised dots - distinguishing it from the forthcoming £10 and £20 notes which will have “tactile features”.
£3. No more female fivers
The current £5, which features Elizabeth Fry, will remain legal tender until May 5 2017. The replacement of the prison reformer with Winston Churchill would have meant that no female figures (apart from the Queen) would appear on Bank of England currency. Thousands signed a petition in protest, and it was subsequently announced that Jane Austen would appear on the new £10 note from summer 2017.
£4. History and geography
The Bank of England’s non-paper note isn’t the first to be made of plastic, with governments the world over trying to perfect an anti-counterfeiting standard for currency since the 1970s. Seven countries including Australia and Canada have already only polymer notes in use. In March 2015, the Clydesdale Bank issued two million £5 polymer banknotes commemorating the 125th anniversary of the Forth Bridge.
£5 Famous faces
Sir Winston Churchill - the face of the new £5 note - was also the first non-Royal to feature on a British coin - the 1965 crown or five shilling piece. Artist JMW Turner will appear on the new-look £20 banknote, due in 2020.