The Bank of England’s (BoE) new polymer £50 note featuring the portrait of WW2 codebreaker Alan Turing has entered circulation.

The move means the Bank’s entire collection of currently-printed banknotes is made of plastic for the first time. In addition, the release date coincides with that would have been Turing’s birthday.

BoE Governor, Andrew Bailey, said: “Our banknotes celebrate some of our country’s most important historical figures. That’s why I am delighted that Alan Turing features on the new polymer £50 note. Having undertaken remarkable codebreaking work during the Second World War, he went on to pioneer work on early computers, as well as making some ground-breaking discoveries in the field of developmental biology.”

The move comes as Pride month is well underway in the UK, which looks to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and shed light on some of the issues it faces.

Bailey added: “He was also gay and was treated appallingly as a result. Placing him on this new banknote is a recognition of his contributions to our society, and a celebration of his remarkable life.”

As part of the release, the Bank of England Museum has also launched an online exhibition celebrating Turing’s life’s work and how he inspired the new design. Turing was essential in cracking the code the Germans used to communicate during the Second World War.

Advanced security features

The new £50 note contains advanced security features, and according to the BoE is the most secure banknote yet.

Speaking on this, BoE’s chief cashier, Sarah John, said: “The polymer £50 note is the most secure Bank of England banknote yet, and the features of the note make it very difficult to counterfeit. All of our polymer banknotes can be checked by looking for two key security features: a hologram which changes image; and see-through windows.

“So if you can check one denomination of banknote, you can check them all. The new £50 notes, like the polymer £10 and £20 notes, contain a tactile feature to help vision impaired people identify the denomination.”

From 30 September 2022, customers will no longer be able to pay using the paper £20 and £50 notes. After this date, these paper notes will no longer be legal tender.