History of the £10 Pound Note

Series A : White £10 Note – Issued 1759

The £10 note was first issued by the Bank of England during the Seven Year’s War (1755-1764) to help maintain more of its gold reserves. The idea was for people to cash in smaller denominations of money in exchange for gold, thus easing the strain on the bank.

The white £10 note was issued in 1759 and was roughly 210 x 127mm. It was printed on white paper, single sided with black ink. These notes remained in use with few changes through to 1945 when the £10 note was removed as a denomination until the Series C design in 1964.

Series C: Issued 1964

After 19 years of absence the £10 note was re-issued by the Bank of England in 1964 alongside other notes in the Series C “portrait style” as it later became known. Both the £10 & £5 notes were designed by Reynolds Stone and were the first notes to depict the monarch (Queen Elizabeth II) on the front side.

Stone was clearly influenced by the Series B £5 note issued in 1957 as he carried over the Bank of England’s symbolic Lion holding a double sided key; a sign of Britain’s economic strength. Another notable feature is the continued use of the water mark, this time Queen Elizabeth II, to reduce counterfeiting. The Series C notes were withdrawn May 1979.






Series D: Issued 1975

1975 saw the release of what later became known as the pictorial series £10 note. The pictorial series not only had the monarch pictured on the front but also a famous historical figure on the reverse side. Every note in this series was designed by Harry Ecclestone and just like other notes in the series the Queen is depicted wearing state robes, the George IV State Diadem, Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee necklace and Queen Alexandra’s Cluster Earrings.

The figure on the reverse is Florence Nightingale, also known as “The Lady with the Lamp”. She is seen alongside an illustration of her working at the Selimiye Barracks in Scutari, Turkey during the Crimean War. The watermark on this note also depicts Florence Nightingale instead of the queen.

Florence Nightingale (1820 – 1910) was a British nurse who was among some of the first women to serve in the army. She was appointed to help during the Crimean war at Scutari Barracks alongside 38 other nurses. The appalling conditions she found in the barracks later led her to the conclusion that there was a need for greater sanitation within the armed forces.





Series E: Issued 1992 & Revised 1993

The current note in use today is the re-released version of the series E. Originally the series E was released in 1992 and featured Charles Dickens on the reverse with a scene from The Pickwick Papers. Designed by Roger Withington it was revised in 1993 to include the “£10” on the upper right on both sides (replacing the crown on the front). It is mostly an orange brown colour, although is classified as multi-coloured by the bank of England.

Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870) was a British author whose classic literature works are known the world over. He rose from working in a factory to writing for newspapers and eventually went on to produce some of his most famous work; David Copperfield and Great Expectations.






 Series E Re-Design: Issued 2000

The current series E £10 note in use today keeps a similar style to the original 1993 note but replaces Charles Dickens with Charles Darwin. Alongside Darwin is a depiction of the famous ship HMS Beagle heading out to sea, as well as Darwin’s magnifying glass and a Hummingbird, these items are supposed to represent his controversial and pioneering book The Origin of Species.

The Hummingbird on this note has caused some controversy in itself. Professor Steve Jones, of University College London told The Guardian newspaper that there are no Hummingbirds on the Galapagos Islands, and that Mockingbirds and Finches were what led Darwin to thinking of evolution. In fact there is no mention of Hummingbirds in The Origin of Species.T

he Bank of England’s reply to this statement was: “the ship HMS Beagle… is depicted on the back of the note. Also pictured is an illustration of Darwin’s own magnifying lens and the flora and fauna that he may have come across on his travels.” – suggesting that the note doesn’t depict the Galapagos Islands specifically and is representative of Darwin’s complete travels on HMS Beagle.

 Series F – Jane Austen Polymer Note: To Be Issued 2017

The future £10 note to be released in 2017 will feature famous British writer Jane Austen, known for works such as Sense and Sensibility as well as Pride and Prejudice. It will be printed on polymer to continue the Bank of England’s transfer to plastic notes beginning with the £5 note in 2016.

The Bank of England Governor said: “Jane Austen certainly merits a place in the select group of historical figures to appear on our banknotes. Her novels have an enduring and universal appeal and she is recognised as one of the greatest writers in English literature. As Austen joins Adam Smith, Boulton and Watt, and in future, Churchill, our notes will celebrate a diverse range of individuals who have contributed in a wide range of fields.”

The note will include Austen’s twelve sided writing table and quills as a central backdrop above an image of Godmerhsam Park, believed to be the inspiration of a few of her novels. It will also have the quote – “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading” from Pride and Prejudice.

Extra Reading & Information:

Bank of England Bank Note Statistics

Article Sources:
– Bank of England – Withdrawn Bank Notes
– World Bank Notes and Coins – Series C Bank Note
– World Bank Notes and Coins – Series D Bank Note
– BBC – Florence Nightingale
– World Bank Notes and Coins – Series E Revision Bank Note
– BBC – Charles Dickens
– The Guardian – Darwin Hummingbird Controversy
– Bank of England – Jane Austen 2017 Bank Note

The Metropolitan Railway – The World’s First Urban Underground Railway

The Metropolitan Railway first opened to the public with a 3 mile long stretch between Paddington and Farringdon Street in 1863, costing roughly £1.3 million. It was the world’s first urban underground railway and was developed by Sir John Fowler using the cut-and-cover method.

Before the railway was built the City of London was suffering increased congestion from horse-drawn carriages. Charles Pearson (1793-1862), a solicitor for the City of London and campaigner of penal reform and the abolition of capital punishment, saw this rise in congestion and was a supporter of producing an underground railway system as early as 1845.

Through the 40’s and 50’s Pearson lobbied for various new railways and stations to be constructed as a method of countering the rise of congestion entering from the city’s suburbs, all of which were rejected. Finally, on the 7th August 1854 a proposal for a railway between Paddington and Farringdon Street was accepted. Although Pearson didn’t hold shares in the new railway company he continued to promote the line and eventually convinced the City of London to fund a major proportion of the project. When the line was operational the once skeptical city sold the shares for a profit.

Charles Pearson died 4 months before the public opening of the Metropolitan Railway. Although he had turned down money from the company (offered as a thank you for his push to open the railway, as well as assistance in gaining funding) his wife was provided a yearly £250 (roughly £28,000 when adjusted for inflation).

Constructing the Metropolitan Railway

The Metropolitan Railway was constructed using the cut-and-cover method, a process in which an area of ground is dug into from the surface producing a large trench. While the trench is open all works are able to be completed with relative ease and space. For the Metropolitan Railway the walls were built up using brick while the roof was produced with a combination of iron girders and elliptical brick archways. Once all work was completed the trench was back-filled with earth and compacted. Today, cut-and-cover is most commonly used on service pipe replacements and maintenance such as; water, gas and electricity cables.

Thames Tunnel Shield

The cut-and-cover method was the main shallow subway production technique in the 1800’s, it was fairly quick and much easier than boring a tunnel through by hand. An example of early tunnel boring techniques can be seen in the Thames Tunnel constructed by Marc & Isambard Brunel. Utilising the tunnel shield, patented by Marc Isambard Bruel & Thomas Cochrane, It was able to progress only 3-4 metres per week. The main problem with cut-and-cover however is the large amount of disruption that can be caused on the surface compared to deep tunnel boring techniques.

Another positive of using the cut-and-cover method was the proximity to the surface; this made smoke and steam ventilation systems easier to install. Despite using condenser type trains (trains which trap and condense the steam produced so it can be re-used) these ventilation systems were greatly necessary in the Metropolitan Railway before the electrification of the central parts of the line, which took place in the early 20th Century. Line extensions further out of the city were not electrified until the 1960’s.

The condenser trains utilised were produced by Beyer, Peacock and Company. After the initial 18 locomotives were so successful a further 120 were ordered and used on the Metropolitan, District and other cut-and-cover lines. In the end 148 of these condenser locomotives were produced and run until the electrification of parts of the line in 1905.

Metropolitan Railway Steam Condenser Locomotive

During the construction phase of the railway there was skepticism among local and national newspapers, some referring to it as ‘the drain’. This skepticism wasn’t helped by several problems encountered during construction, including; burst sewerage pipes flooding the tunnel and collapsing excavations damaging nearby buildings. However, on the first day of opening on the 10th January 1863 the railway carried 38,000 passengers with extra trains needed to supply the demand. In the first 12 months an estimated 9.5 million passengers were carried with a further 12 million in the following 12 months.

The Metropolitan Railway extended several times from its central London routes. These expansions to the suburbs provided an opportunity for the company to retain any surplus land that ran alongside its tracks and develop housing, providing its own mortgage and finance schemes. These homes were mainly purchased by city workers due to their proximity to stations and the ease of commuting into London. In 1915 these areas were dubbed Metro-Land. As part of the Metro-Land experience the company would put on special catering cars on their peak trains both in the morning and the evening. The idea was for city workers to have their breakfast while on their way to work and have their dinner when returning in the evenings.

At the beginning of the 20th Century other companies were opening up deep-level electric tracks, these became much more popular with transport users due to the lack of pollution. This popularity of electric trains forced both the Metropolitan Railway and the Metropolitan District Railway to electrify their own trains. After a successful 6 month trial on the railway it was decided that electric was the way forward and they began electrifying the central routes and in 1905 the first electric trains were running on Metropolitan Railway tracks.

Electricity not only significantly reduced pollution but also sped up services too. The circle line’s electrification reduced travel time from 70 minutes for a full circle to just 50 minutes proving electric traction was the way forward. Despite this clear advantage of electricity it wasn’t until the early 60’s that the entire Metropolitan Railway (later called the Metropolitan Line) was fully running on electricity.

In 1933 the Metropolitan Railway merged with other underground railways and bus companies to form the London Passenger Transport Board, which soon traded under the name London Transport. From then on it became known as the Metropolitan Line and is still known as that today.

Further Reading:
– TFL – Time Line & History of London Underground Events
– Memories of the Metropolitan Railway

– Ejge Geotechnical Engineers- Cut-and-Cover Information
– Amersham History – Metro-Land Information
– History today – General Overview of the Met Railway

Image Sources
– Cover Image – London transport Museum -Metropolitan Railway Roundel
– Illustration of cut-and-cover trench close to Kings Cross, London – The Illustrated London News, 2nd February 1861, Page 99, Author: P Justyne
– Thames Tunnel Illustration
– Steam Condenser locomotive – Loz Pycock, 2009 on Flickr

History of the £5 Pound Note

Bank notes were originally issued by the Bank of England in 1694. Their purpose was to be provided as a receipt in exchange for gold loans to the bank to fund King William III’s war against France. To this day all British notes have the statement “I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of…” It literally meant anyone who held the note could take it to the Bank of England and exchange it for the equivalent price in gold coin. Unfortunately, since British currency left the gold standard in favour of securities in 1931 you can no longer trade your notes in for gold. Below discover the history of past, present and future £5 notes.

Series A: “White Fiver” – Issued 1793

In 1793 as a reaction to the war against Revolutionary France, and the resulting depletion of the Bank of England’s gold reserves, the first £5 notes were introduced. The notes were 195 x 120mm in size (much bigger than today’s equivalent of 135 x 70mm) and were produced in black ink on white paper, later becoming known as the “White Fiver”. These notes were left relatively unchanged (with the exception of some size fluctuations) until 1945 when a metal thread security feature was introduced for the first time.

Series B: Issued 1957

The White Fiver was removed from circulation in March 1961, four years after the release of the first double-sided and multi-coloured £5 note (Series B). This new note was designed by Stephen Gooden and for the first time had a watermark image which could be viewed from both sides of the note. The front side featured a portrait of a helmeted Britannia, as well as an image of St. George and a dragon in the centre. The reverse depicts a Lion holding a double-sided key; a symbol of Britain’s economic strength. This note continued to be legal tender until June 1967.





Series C: Issued 1963

In 1963 the series C note was released. Designed by Reynolds Stone it was the first £5 note to depict a portrait of a monarch (Queen Elizabeth II).  On the rear there was a full body depiction of Britannia  holding an olive branch with her famous shield and trident; she can be seen sitting next to a pile of coins. This bank-note continued using complex designs and drawings as a security measure against counterfeits.





Series D: Issued 1971

The 1971 Series D £5 note was designed by Harry Eccleston and was part of the series that became known as pictorial bank notes. For the first time, Series D notes not only had an image of the Queen on the front but depicted a historical figure on the reverse. The £5 was the second such note to depict a historical figure, the first being the July 1970 £20 note. One other notable feature of this £5 note was the increased width of the metal thread, which doubled to 1mm in a 1987 revision.

On previous notes the Queen had been shown wearing the George IV State Diadem with pearl necklace, on Series D however she was depicted wearing state robes, the George IV State Diadem, Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee necklace and Queen Alexandra’s Cluster Earrings. Next to her there is an image of Nike the goddess of victory and below that a seal showing Britannia.

On the reverse the historical figure shown is the Duke of Wellington (1769 – 1852). Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley (1st Duke of Wellington ) was an Anglo-Irish soldier and key military figure. His most famous achievement is the defeat of Napoleon in the 1815 Battle of Waterloo. On the Series D note he is shown standing next to a battle scene commemorating the Battle of Salamanca (22nd July 1812) in which the United Kingdom, Portugal & Spain lead a decisive victory over the French during the Peninsular War (1807 – 1814).





Series E: Version One – Issued 1990

The current £5 note in use today is the Series E note (revised edition) designed by Roger Withington, it is the first £5 note to be truly multicoloured, with a strong emphasis on Turquoise blue and also the first to have a windowed metal thread security feature; the thread is visible in all conditions as 4mm long sections spaced apart. When held up to the light the thread can be seen as a solid strip running vertically up the note.

The Series E has been revised twice since its initial release in 1990. The first edition depicts George Stephenson (1781 – 1848) who was an English civil & mechanical engineer, sometimes known as the “Father of Railways” for his achievements building the world’s first inter-city steam locomotive railway system. His rail gauge also known as the “Stephenson Gauge” is a standard of most railways across the world.





Series E: Version Two – Issued 1993

The 1st revision was made to change some colouring on the note. The £5 in the top left corner on both sides was made a darker shade of the previous colours to help it stand out further – dark blue for the front and olive for the rear. This version of the note ceased to be legal tender in November 2003.

Series E: Version Three – Issued 2002

The 2nd revision of the Series E £5 note is the one currently in use today. Instead of George Stephenson it depicts Elizabeth Fry (1780 – 1845). Fry, often referred to as the “angel of prisons” was an English activist and social reformer who was a major influence on the introduction of new legislation to treat prisoners more humanely. In 1818 she also became the first woman to give evidence in Parliament.





Britain’s First Polymer Notes – Issued 2015

On 23rd March 2015, in commemoration of the 125th anniversary of the Forth Bridge, Scotland’s Clydesdale Bank issued Britain’s first polymer £5 note. This note depicts the Forth Bridge, as well as Scottish engineer Sir William Arrol; one of the men who was responsible for its construction.

Chief Operating Officer Debbie Crosbie said on the notes release:
“We take our responsibility as an issuer of banknotes seriously and are extremely proud to once again be leading the way in innovation. Our new polymer notes are more durable and secure, which will deliver a positive impact for the public and businesses. We have achieved that while also creating a striking and beautiful design which celebrates an iconic Scottish landmark.”

The Forth Bridge is still considered a great engineering accomplishment and it is with the innovative spirit of the bridge in mind that the Clydesdale Bank have issued the first £5 polymer note in Great Britain, leading Britain into the innovative world of plastic bank notes.





Series F: Bank of England’s First Polymer Notes – To be Issued in 2016

In 2015 the Bank of England announced that Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965) was going to be the face of a brand new polymer £5 note. Then Governor of the Bank of England, Sir Mervyn King stated; Churchill was chosen as he is “a hero of the entire free world”. The rest of the note will include a well-known Churchill quote from 1940 “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat” as well as a depiction of Elizabeth tower with the clock pointing to three o’clock, which is the rough time of Churchill’s quote.

When released in 2016 the note will end 322 years of Bank of England paper based money. The Bank of England spent three years researching the switch from cotton paper to polymer, holding multiple public consultations around the country.

“The Bank’s research has shown considerable benefits in polymer banknotes, they are cleaner, more secure, and more durable than paper banknotes. They will provide enhanced counterfeit resilience, and increase the quality of banknotes in circulation. Polymer notes are also more environmentally friendly than paper and, because they last longer are, over time, cheaper than paper banknotes.”
– Bank of England.

The size of the bank-note is also going to change and will continue the ongoing trend of making the notes smaller. It is estimated the note will be around 15% smaller than the current Series E notes.

A handout image released by the Bank of England 26 April 2013 showing the Sir Winston Churchill banknote concept. Churchill’s image, based on a portrait made in 1941, is expected to appear on the new five pound banknote as of from 2016, though the Bank of England says the plans have not been finalized as yet. EPA/BANK OF ENGLAND / HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

Extra Reading & Information:

Bank of England Bank Note Statistics

Article Sources:

Bank of England – Withdrawn Bank Notes PDF
Clydesdale Bank – Polymer Notes
World Bank Notes & Coins
Bank of England – Moving to Polymer Notes