Design for Alan Turing £50 note revealed

The new polymer banknote will be put into circulation on the codebreaker's birthday, 23 June

The Bank of England's new £50 note featuring Alan Turing

A new design of the £50 note featuring famed British scientist Alan Turing has been revealed by the Bank of England (BoE).

The note will be in circulation from 23 June 2021, which coincides with what would have been Turing's 109th birthday.

Turing is widely regarded as one of the world's most influential scientists, known for his codebreaking work at Bletchley Park during World War Two. His Enigma machine would ultimately prove successful in cracking the codes used by the German military, which historians believe shortened the war and saved countless lives as a result.

He was also a leading mathematician, developmental biologist, and pioneer in the field of computer science.

However, Turing's life is also marked by tragedy, as he was later convicted of gross indecency in 1952 after he was discovered having an affair with a 19-year-old man. The resulting persecution, and the forced use of hormonal treatment as an alternative to prison, eventually led to Turing taking his own life in 1954.

By placing him on its new polymer £50 banknote, the BoE said it was celebrating his achievements and "the values he symbolises".

"There's something of the character of a nation in its money, and we are right to consider and celebrate the people on our banknotes. So I'm delighted that our new £50 features one of Britain's most important scientists, Alan Turing," said Andrew Bailey, the governor of the BoE.

Fittingly, the polymer note contains 'advanced' security technology in the form of two-colour foil, which the BoE suggests makes it difficult to counterfeit. There is also a holographic image that changes between the words "fifty" and "pounds" when it is tilted from side to side.

The director of GCHQ, Jeremy Fleming, called the note a "landmark moment" in the UK's history as it also confirms Turing's status as one of the most iconic LGBT+ figures in the world.

"Turing was embraced for his brilliance and persecuted for being gay," Fleming said. "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."

The £50 note will also include nods to different stages of Turing's life, including a photo taken of Turing during 1951, his signature taken from a visitor's book from Max Newman's House, and ticker tape displaying Turing's birth date (23 June, 1912) in binary.

Also included is a quote given to the Times Newspaper during an interview in 1949: "This is only a foretaste of what is to come, and only the shadow of what is going to be."

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