What To Do For A Quid In London

Harry Rosehill
By Harry Rosehill Last edited 45 months ago
What To Do For A Quid In London
New kid on the block

It's the last week you can use the trusty old-school pound coin before its 12 sided-replacement completes its takeover. We believe that old £1 coins deserve a proper send-off instead of finding themselves limply traded in for their replacement at the bank.

The ICA. Photo: Matt Brown

A day in the ICA

A day membership at ICA costs just £1, to wander around and see all the fabulous contemporary art that's on offer. Its showings can be divisive, so be warned that your £1 isn't a guarantee of quality — hopefully what you'll see will at least be thought-provoking though.

One Brixton Pound. Photo: Matt Brown

Swap it for a Brixton Pound

The Brixton Pound was set up as an alternative currency in (...you guessed it) Brixton. The idea is to encourage locals to spend their cash in local businesses, rather than chain stores. The value of the currency is tied to Sterling, so there's not much point saving the money in the hope its value will overtake GBP. Still, the notes are cool, and there's lots of great businesses you can spend them in. Find out where to get a paper Brixton pound here.

Photo: Sean Batten

Buy a second hand book

There are plenty of places to buy second hand books on the cheap in London, but one of our faves is on the South Bank under Waterloo Bridge. Not all the books are as cheap as just £1, but a lot are. Even if they're not you might be able to haggle them down. What do you mean, you don't know how to haggle?

Play some old arcades

Revel in the nostalgic flashing lights of arcade machines. There are a number of arcade machines hidden across the city, but the best place to get bang for your (single) buck is The Four Quarters in Peckham. One pound gets you Four Quarters — hence the name — to plug into the machines and vie for high scores.

The rule is clear. Photo: Matt Brown

Take a photo of some art

The masterpiece titled Shoe Tree Art, in a park off Brick Lane, has a helpful sign by it; 'Please donate £1 for each photo taken, thank you'. Well, it's on a sign so you've got to do it.

Rot your teeth

Ask a child on the street what they'd do with a quid and the answer might be unanimous. Buy some sweets. There's plenty of places in London to get some candy, but our pick of the bunch is Suck and Chew on Columbia Road. Your pick'n'mix is weighed at the end, so you might have to put a few things back to make sure you'll reach that magic £1.

Use it for a tribute to a poetic giant

Photo: Matt Brown

Ezra Pound was an incredibly influential poet, who spent a number of his formative years living on a quiet cul-de-sac in Kensington. It was actually a rather large moment when the plaque was unveiled in 2004, after many felt Pound's controversial history meant he should be excluded. Lay your pound coin beneath the plaque in tribute to his works.

Throw it into a fountain

Though London doesn't have its own Trevi Fountain — where people queue up to chuck their coins — it's still a popular activity for tourists. If you're looking to chuck a pound coin in any particular fountain, we humbly suggest the massive ones in Trafalgar Square. Apparently London's fountains are periodically cleaned and the money goes to charity. So you might be achieving more than one wish with a single coin.

Trade it in at the Bank Of England

Old pound coins can be traded in at all banks in exchange for new ones. However, for Londoners there's one bank that stands above all others. The Bank of England. So swap your pound coins in style.

P.s. If you're running low on old pound coins, we always notice a few trollies at the bottom of London's canals and rivers. Just hop in and bring them back to the store to collect the coin. Photo evidence provided below.

If you know any other ways to spend £1 in London, tell us down in the comments.

Last Updated 10 October 2017