The new 50 pound note is revealed

As the new 50 pound note featuring Alan Turing is revealed, we take a look back at all the famous faces who have appeared on banknotes over the years.


by Lorna White |

Although many of us might not get to use a 50 pound note as much as some of the other banknotes, it's very exciting when a new note is brought in. The new 50 will feature the computer pioneer and codebreaker Alan Turing.

This new note will be the last Bank of England note to switch from paper to polymer, and it's set to be the most secure bank note yet, making it virtually impossible for it to be forged.

The new note will enter circulation on June 23, which would have been Alan's 109th birthday.

You're probably already very familiar with the work of Alan Turing, but in case you're not, he played a major part in helping accelerate efforts to read German Naval messages enciphered with the Enigma machine. His work is said to have been key to shortening World War Two and saving lives.

Tragically, in 1952, he was convicted of gross indecency for his relationship with a man, which at the time was a criminal offence, and he was treated appallingly as a result, forced to take hormone treatments instead of prison time. He died aged just 41 after committing suicide. In 2013, he was given a posthumous royal pardon for his conviction.

Andrew Bailey, the governor of the Bank of England, said: "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."


Famous faces from banknotes

Charles Darwin
1 of 17

The famous naturalist, geologist and biologist is best known for his theory of evolution. He appeared on the 10 pound between 2000 and 2018.

Jane Austen
2 of 17

The English novelist, who is most famous for her books Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice replaced Charles Darwin on the 10 pound note in 2018.

Sir Isaac Newton
3 of 17

Mathematician and scientist Sir Isaac Newton is considered the most influential scientist of all time and he appeared on the old £1 note until 1988 when it was taken out of circulation.

The Duke of Wellington
4 of 17

Arthur Wellesley was the first Duke of Wellington. He served twice as Prime Minister and defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. He appeared on the five pound note between 1971 to 1991.

George Stephenson
5 of 17

British civil and mechanical engineer George Stephenson was considered the 'Father of Railways' and appeared on the five pound note between 1990 to 2003.

Elizabeth Fry
6 of 17

Sometimes referred to as Betsy Fry was a social reformer and prison reformer, acting as a major force behind legislation to make the treatment of prisoners more humane. She appeared on the five pound note between 2002 to 2017.

Winston Churchill
7 of 17

Serving as Britain's Prime Minister during the Second World War years, he's appeared on the five pound note since 2016.

Florence Nightingale
8 of 17

Social reformer and founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale became famous for her efforts during the Crimean War. She appeared on the ten pound note until 1992

Charles Dickens
9 of 17

Author Charles Dickens wrote some of the most loved stories including David Copperfield, Oliver, Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol to name a few. He's appeared on the ten pound note since 1992.

William Shakespeare
10 of 17

Playwright, poet and actor, Shakespeare wrote some of the most famous plays of all time include Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and Macbeth to name a few. He appeared on the 20 pound note between 1970 and 1993.

Michael Faraday
11 of 17

English scientist, Michael Faraday, had a major impact on the study of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. He appeared on the 20 pound note between 1991 and 2001.

Edward Elgar
12 of 17

British composer, Edward Elgar, is most famous for many of his orchestral works including the Enigma Variations and the Pomp and Circumstance Marches. He appeared on the 20 pound note between 1999 and 2010.

Adam Smith
13 of 17

Scottish economist and philosopher Adam Smith was a pioneer of the political economy. He has appeared on the 20 pound note since 2007.

Sir Christopher Wren
14 of 17

Sir Christopher Wren was one of the most highly acclaimed architects and was responsible for the rebuilding of 52 churches in London after the great fire. He appeared on the 50 pound note between 1981 to 1996.

Sir John Houblon
15 of 17

He was the first Governor of the Bank of England from 1694 to 1697. He appeared on the 50 pound note between 1994 to 2014.

Matthew Boulton and James Watt
16 of 17

Matthew Boulton was an English manufacturer and business partner of Scottish engineer James Watt. The pair installed hundreds of Boulton & Watt steam engines in the early 18th Century. They appeared on the 50 pound note between 2011 up until 2021.

The Queen
17 of 17

Of course, we couldn't mention the people who have appeared on our banknotes without mentioning the Queen, who has been featured on billions of banknotes and coins since becoming queen in 1952.

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