This Day In London’s History
1988: The Bank of England withdraws the £1 note from circulation.
In 1797 the Bank of England started printing banknotes in denominations of one pound sterling on a regular basis. To quote their website:
In 1759, gold shortages caused by the Seven Years War forced the Bank to issue a £10 note for the first time. The first £5 notes followed in 1793 at the start of the war against Revolutionary France. This remained the lowest denomination until 1797, when a series of runs on the Bank, caused by the uncertainty of the war, drained its bullion reserve to the point where it was forced to stop paying out gold for its notes. Instead, it issued £1 and £2 notes.
The issuing of £1 notes continued until 1821, when gold sovereigns became legal tender for this amount and the £1 notes were withdrawn. However the Bank was once more forced to preserve its gold stocks when the First World War broke out in 1914, so they started issuing £1 notes again.
By the 1980s the Bank had noted that the £1 note was becoming increasingly ‘inconvenient’ – being often kept in people’s pockets along with nasty hard things like keys and coins meant that the average life-span of a £1 note before it wore out was only about nine months. This contrasted with the £1 coin, which was introduced in 1983, and was thought to have a potential life-span of several decades. Despite initial objections, the £1 note was discontinued in 1984 and officially withdrawn from circulation in 1988. And so, on 12th March 1988, the £1 became “no longer legal tender”.
Despite the fact that they have not been legal tender for almost two decades now, you can still exchange any £1 notes for current banknotes (or coins) at the Bank of England. However you’d probably get more for them if you sold them on eBay.
One Thing You Must Do In London This Week
A couple of weeks ago, we noted the anniversary of the first ever meeting of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). Well this week, if you fancy doing something a bit different (OK it might not be ‘different’ for you, but it would certainly be very out of the ordinary for us), you could go along to a meeting at the ZSL on Tuesday evening.
Entitled ‘Saving Species on the Edge: From Theory to Practice’, the meeting will discuss the wide variety of different species of mammals that are under threat of extinction, and how current conservation efforts seem to be inconsistent when determining which species are highlighted for protection and which are effectively ignored. The meeting will present “an innovative approach to species conservation currently being developed by ZSL scientists”. More details are available at the ZSL website.
The meeting takes place from 6pm to 7:30pm at the Zoological Society of London meeting rooms (there’s a map here). Admission is free.