Alan Turing, World War Two Codebreaker, To Feature On £50 Note From Today

by : Cameron Frew on : 23 Jun 2021 07:27
Alan Turing, World War Two Codebreaker, To Feature On £50 Note From TodayPA Images

The new £50 note featuring World War Two codebreaker Alan Turing has entered circulation in England.

Releasing into the country on what would have been the mathematician’s 109th birthday, the Bank of England’s polymer note will be distributed through branches and ATMs over the coming weeks.


For the first time in its history, the bank’s entire collection of notes is made of plastic, believed to last two-and-a-half times longer than their paper predecessors.

Turing, a computing pioneer, played a key role in breaking the German Enigma code that allowed enemy forces to send messages securely, something we all take for granted with in-built encryption today. His work is estimated to have shortened the war by two years, saving more than 14 million lives.

He was also prosecuted for being a homosexual, facing chemical castration treatment before eventually taking his own life in 1954. The Alan Turing law, introduced by the UK in 2017, retroactively pardoned those convicted or cautioned for being gay under earlier laws.


The note features a photo of Turing from 1951, his signature, his date of birth in binary and a previous quote: ‘This is only a foretaste of what is to come, and only the shadow of what is going to be.’

‘Alan Turing was a genius who helped to shorten the war and influence the technology that still shapes our lives today,’ Jeremy Fleming, GCHQ director, told BBC News.

‘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,’ Andrew Bailey, the governor of the Bank of England, also said.


‘Having undertaken remarkable codebreaking work here at Bletchley Park during the Second World War, he went on to pioneer work on early computers, as well as making some groundbreaking discoveries in the field of developmental biology. 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,’ he added.

Turing’s £50 note joins the Sir Winston Churchill £5 note, the Jane Austen £10 note, and the JMW Turner £20 note. Paper notes won’t be accepted in shops from October 2022, but you can still exchange them at the bank or post office.

While the £50 note is the least common of all bank notes, it’s used more than you may think, with 357 million said to be in circulation this year.


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Cameron Frew

Entertainment Editor at UNILAD. 2001: A Space Odyssey is the best film ever made, and Warrior is better than Rocky. That's all you need to know.

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    New Alan Turing £50 note enters circulation