The day Britain ditched old money

Jon Danzig |

Compared to Brexit, the day Britain ditched its old money and adopted a new decimal currency was smooth sailing.

Work on the new system began in earnest in March 1966 and decimalisation day came five years later, on 15 February 1971, when the government launched the new currency across the country.

The familiar pounds, shillings and pence were to be phased out during the following 18 months in favour of a system dividing the pound into 100 pennies, instead of 240.

Banks were closed for two working days to prepare for the introduction of the new currency.

The then Chairman of the Decimal Currency Board, Lord Fiske, said on this day 53 years ago:

“The general picture is quite clear and the smooth and efficient changeover so many people have worked for is now in fact being achieved.”

Do you have memories of decimalisation day?

Do you agree that the five years it took to prepare Britain for its new currency were supremely better organised than the years it’s taken to get Britain ready for Brexit?

(And almost eight years since the EU referendum, Brexit is still not ‘oven-ready’ or fit for human consumption.)

  • With decimalisation, Britain smoothly introduced what was really an entirely new currency but with the same name.

    Probably adopting the euro could be just as smooth, and likely with bigger benefits. After all, in record time, the euro has become the world’s second most traded and trusted currency, next to the US dollar. It offers enormous advantages to businesses and travellers across Europe.If the UK did ever join the EU again, we would have to agree to adopt the euro when our economy was ready. So, this is a subject that would need to be raised, explained, and promoted.


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