The launch means the last of the UK’s paper banknotes will be withdrawn – but shoppers have plenty of time to prepare

A plastic £50 banknote featuring WW2 codebreaker Alan Turing launches today, meaning the last of the UK’s paper currency will be phased out.
The new polymer £50 features Turing’s portrait, designs for the British Bombe codebreaking device he helped make and some of his other mathematical formulae.
Turing is best-known for his codebreaking work at Bletchley Park on cracking the German Enigma machine in WWII, which let the allies read secret enemy messages.
Historians think Turing’s work may have shortened the war by four years – saving tens of thousands of lives. He is also seen as one of the fathers of modern computing.
Today would also have been Turing’s birthday.
The new polymer banknote spells the end for paper notes that have existed since 1694 (Image: PA)
The new £50 note launches on what would have been Alan Turing’s birthday (Image: PA)
Underneath the picture of Turing on the banknote is a quote from him, saying: “This is only a foretaste of what is to come, and only the shadow of what is going to be.”
The polymer banknotes are meant to last longer and be harder to forge than paper ones.
Paper notes were first introduced by the Bank of England in 1694.
The Turing £50 has two translucent panels and a two-colour foil strip, making it tough to fake.
It also has a hologram image which changes between the words fifty and pounds when tilting the note from side to side.
An early mock-up of how the new £50 might look (Image: PA)
The notes also have four clusters of raised dots in the top left hand corner of one side, to help blind and partially sighted people work out the its value.
In keeping with tradition, the new £50 will be bigger than all the other polymer banknotes, at around 146mm x 77mm.
The polymer £50 note will join the Churchill £5, the Austen £10 and the Turner £20.
Turing, who was gay but engaged to a woman, Joan Clarke, was arrested in 1952 for gross indecency after an affair with a 19-year-old man.
Being gay only stopped being a crime in 1967. Turing was forced to take female hormones, so-called ‘chemical castration’, or else go to prison.
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He killed himself in 1954 and got a royal pardon for his ‘crime’ in 2013.
When the Turing £50 was unveiled, Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey said: “Turing is best known for his codebreaking work at Bletchley Park, which helped end the Second World War.
“However in addition 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.”
Deadline to use paper £50 notes
You can keep using the current paper £50 notes as usual. They will be withdrawn, but the Bank of England will give at least six months’ notice before they are.
The current paper £50 was issued in 2011 and features James Watt and Matthew Boulton, who designed the steam engine.
There are currently 344 million paper £50 notes still in circulation, with a combined value of £17.2billion.
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