New Alan Turing £50 note design is revealed
The design of the Bank of England’s new £50 note, featuring the computer pioneer and codebreaker Alan Turing, has been revealed.
The banknote will enter circulation on 23 June, which would have been the mathematician’s birthday.
It will be the last of the Bank’s collection to switch from paper to polymer. In keeping with Alan Turing’s work, it has advanced security features. Old paper £50 notes will still be accepted in shops for some time.
Why is Alan Turing on the note?
The work of Alan Turing, who was educated in Sherborne, Dorset, helped accelerate Allied efforts to read German Naval messages enciphered with the Enigma machine. His work is said to have been key to shortening World War Two by two years and saving 14 million lives.
Less celebrated is the pivotal role he played in the development of early computers, first at the National Physical Laboratory and later at the University of Manchester.
1912 – Alan Mathison Turing was born in West London
1936 – Produced “On Computable Numbers”, aged 24
1952 – Convicted of gross indecency for his relationship with a man
In 2013, he was given a posthumous royal pardon for his conviction for gross indecency. He had been arrested after having an affair with a 19-year-old Manchester man, and was forced to take female hormones as an alternative to prison. He died at the age of 41. An inquest recorded his death as suicide.
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.”
The Bank is flying the rainbow flag above its Threadneedle Street building in London as a result.
What features are on the note?
The new note will feature:
- A photo of Turing taken in 1951 by Elliott and Fry, and part of the National Portrait Gallery’s collection;
- A table and mathematical formulae from Turing’s 1936 paper “On Computable Numbers, with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem” – foundational for computer science;
- The Automatic Computing Engine (ACE) Pilot Machine – the trial model of Turing’s design and one of the first electronic stored-program digital computers;
- Technical drawings for the British Bombe, the machine specified by Turing and one of the primary tools used to break Enigma-enciphered messages;
- A quote from Alan Turing, given in an interview to The Times newspaper on 11 June 1949: “This is only a foretaste of what is to come, and only the shadow of what is going to be”;
- His signature from the visitor’s book at Max Newman’s House in 1947 which is on display at Bletchley Park; and
- Ticker tape depicting Alan Turing’s birth date (23 June 1912) in binary code. The concept of a machine fed by binary tape featured in Turing’s 1936 paper.
There are also a series of security features, similar to other notes, including holograms, see-through windows – based partly on images of Bletchley Park – and foil patches.
The Bank also says that plastic banknotes are more durable and harder to forge.
Sarah John, the Bank’s chief cashier whose signature features on the note, said: “This new £50 note completes our set of polymer banknotes. These are much harder to counterfeit, and with its security features the new £50 is part of our most secure series of banknotes yet.”
Do we need a £50 note?
The £50 note is the least likely to be in people’s wallets or purses. There were 351 million £50 notes in circulation last year, out of a total of nearly four billion Bank of England notes. The government has previously discussed whether it should be abolished.
The banknote was described by Peter Sands, former chief executive of Standard Chartered bank, as the “currency of corrupt elites, of crime of all sorts and of tax evasion”.
The debate continues, with the added element that cash use has declined, particularly during the Covid pandemic.
The UK’s intelligence agency GCHQ has set what it describes as its toughest ever puzzle to mark the new note. Although Turing was, among other accomplishments, the co-creator of the first computer chess programme he claimed not to be that good at puzzles himself.
The new note though marks another step in the recognition of a man whose wartime work was secret, and who took his own life soon after his conviction for homosexuality in 1952.
“Turing was embraced for his brilliance and persecuted for being gay,” said current GCHQ Director Fleming. “His legacy is a reminder of the value of embracing all aspects of diversity, but also the work we still need to do to become truly inclusive.”
GCHQ releases ‘most difficult puzzle ever’ in honour of Alan Turing
Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has released its “most difficult puzzle ever”, a set of 12 riddles linked to design elements of the new £50 note featuring the mathematician and codebreaker Alan Turing.
The questions begin with a relatively straightforward crossword-style puzzle that starts by asking where GCHQ’s predecessor agency, where Turing worked, was based during the second world war. A two-word answer, nine letters then four, is required.
The spy agency, which believes setting puzzles gives the public an insight into its surveillance work, said it thought the multi-part “Turing challenge” would take an experienced puzzler seven hours to complete.
Colin, described by the agency as its “chief puzzler,” said GCHQ’s riddles were generated by “a mix of minds from across our missions” in honour of Turing, who he said had inspired many recruits to join.
GCHQ chiefs also took the opportunity to apologise again for the post-war treatment of Turing, who helped develop the Bombe, a machine to help crack the German Enigma code, that is regarded as a forerunner of modern computers.
LGBT staff were banned from working in Britain’s spy agencies until the early 1990s, and if somebody was believed to be gay they were dismissed from the secret services, a policy that has resulted in several retrospective apologies.
In February 2021, the new head of MI6 apologised publicly to officers who were thrown out of the spy agency before 1991, and said the foreign intelligence service operated a “wrong, unjust and discriminatory” ban on LGBT staff in its ranks.
Try the puzzle here.
On-line celebration organised by Queer Britain
Join Queer Britain for an online event to celebrate the Bank of England’s new £50 note.
They will be exploring Turing and his legacy, asking who the unsung queer heroes of Science and Technology are and, after the pardons, what next?
The Audience will also be privy to a special announcement from the Bank of England.
When: Thursday 8 July, 6.00pm – 7.15pm
The discussion will be led by:
Dr Dominic Galliano, Head of Public Engagement from UCL, and features:
Sarah John, the Chief Cashier of the Bank of England;
Josh Little, the lawyer who led the Allen & Overy team advising Stonewall on 2017’s gross indecency ‘Turing Law’ pardons; and
Dr Alex Moylett, Quantum Scientist.
While there is no charge for tickets, they would be grateful for a donation upon booking.
George House Trust launch Age + project to Empower People Ageing with HIV
George House Trust will launch Age+ – a new project which will empower people over the age of 55 to live confidently with HIV in Greater Manchester.
An ever-growing ageing population of people living with HIV means support services need to change and adapt to meet their diverse needs.
Launching in June 2021, the Age+ project will provide services to support people over 55 years of age, living with HIV in Greater Manchester, including social networking opportunities, skills-based training sessions, new volunteering opportunities and one to one support.
Another key element of the project will be the delivery of HIV training and awareness sessions to residential care homes, social care providers and other organisations in contact with, or supporting, older people. This will increase knowledge and understanding of living and ageing with HIV.
Funding for the project was provided by ViiV Healthcare, a global specialist HIV company. Sylvia Nicholson, Policy Director at ViiV Healthcare UK said: “We are delighted to be able to support this project provided by George House Trust to better serve an important group of people living with HIV with evolving needs in Greater Manchester.”
Darren Knight, George House Trust’s Chief Executive, said, “This funding from ViiV means that we can do more work with people ageing with HIV, building their confidence, skills, reducing loneliness and tackling the stigma and discrimination that still exists for people living with HIV. As part of this project, we’ll also be working with care homes and social care providers and developing our essential work in raising awareness of HIV amongst staff in those settings, which will improve the experience of people in care living with HIV.”
About Age+ Project
This project will launch on 21 June 2021. People who are living with HIV who are over the age of 55, care homes and social care providers should contact Anna Hughes on email@example.com for more information on how to get involved.
Since 1985, George House Trust has provided services to people living with, and affected by, HIV. We believe that people living with HIV have the right to live happy and healthy lives, free from stigma and discrimination.
Interview with Darren Knight
“The stigma around HIV can massively impact on those living with the virus. In the early 1980’s, there was a huge lack of understanding around what HIV was. There was no cure, no effective treatment and a lot of fear.
Fast forward to 2021 and people with HIV can expect to live a normal life expectancy and are more likely to die from something other than HIV, but knowledge and understanding has not kept pace. These days, when taking effective treatment, the HIV virus becomes undetectable and can no longer be passed on to others. We call this U=U which means undetectable equals untransmittable.
However, the significant stigma for those living with HIV remains. HIV is a long-term chronic health condition, similar to diabetes, but it is not viewed as the same and those with a HIV status can be treated very negatively due to a lack of understanding and stigma. Those disproportionately affected by HIV are gay and bisexual men and African men and women. However, it is not just people in these communities who are living with HIV. There are many groups impacted by HIV, but the important thing to remember is that anyone can be diagnosed with HIV. As a virus, it doesn’t discriminate.
There is work being done to raise awareness including our Positively Speaking programme, where people living with HIV share their story to dispel the myths that still exist. The lived experience of people living with HIV is so important in changing people’s deeply held views.
However, there’s other important things that need to happen including more testing for those who potentially have HIV, ensuring that the funding is available for HIV prevention and HIV support, more training and awareness for first point of contact professionals like GP’s, dentists, other health professionals and our colleagues across the voluntary sector too. George House Trust continues to work with partner organisations like the LGBT Foundation and BHA for Equality to raise awareness through the Passionate about Sexual Health (PaSH) project in addition to the wide range of other projects that George House Trust offers including access to welfare grants, food parcels, nutrition support, peer support, life coaching and training to name a few.
Ultimately, HIV is an issue that we all need to work together on. The Government pledge to end HIV transmission by 2030 is achievable if we all work together to tackle HIV, but we must first challenge the stigma associated with HIV. You can start by supporting the work of George House Trust or booking a Positive Speaker.”
For more information, call 0161 274 4499 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at https://ght.org.uk/
Exclusive Online Premiere of HIV+Me on Wednesday 23 June, 7.30pm
Dibby Theatre’s YouTube Channel will exclusively premiere HIV+Me, three remarkable short stories of surviving, living and thriving with HIV.
HIV+Me showcases three ordinary people living with HIV and their extraordinary stories in three beautifully shot short films:
- Paul remembers the lovers and friends he lost whilst fighting and campaigning from a grotty basement just off Canal Street.
- Mark revisits the squat he used to call home on Claremont Road and reflects how a positive diagnosis marked the beginning of a new life.
- Yvonne recalls a lifetime of hiding in the shadows before she found something inside so strong that now helps her help others.
Nathaniel Hall, writer, performer and HIV activist (First Time, It’s A Sin) directed the films. The YouTube premiere is on Wednesday 23 June 2021 from 7.30pm – 7.50pm. Make sure you are logged in to YouTube if you wish to write comments during or immediately after the live broadcast here.