End of the Pound note
The 12th of November 1984 AD
When Nigel Lawson, the chancellor, announced on November 12 that the pound note was to be phased out, it created quite a stir. We love to object to change. There were plenty of people alive in 1984 who remembered the same thing happening in reverse in 1914, when the gold sovereign was replaced by the pound note because of the exigencies of war.
Margaret Thatcher had given the familiar green note a reprieve not long before, but as the cost of the coin was only slightly higher than the note, and the coin was expected to last at least 50 times longer, the whole thing made economic sense.
Or was that economic sense really that it reflected the impact of inflation? After all, a coin feels somehow of lower value than a note. Notes go in wallets out of the way; coins stay in your pocket, they are small change. This view was supported by the fact that the 1/2p coin was also to go at the end of 1984, as you couldn’t even get a Fruit Salad or Black Jack for 1/2p any more (that’s sweets for those below a certain age).
For the partially sighted and blind the substitution made even better sense, the coin being far easier to identify by its heft than a pound note ever could be.
In fact the pound note was only withdrawn in England and Wales: Scotland, the Channel Isles, the Isle of Man, and Northern Ireland kept it, rather confusingly. The explanation for this probably another aspect of our British character – the need to assert national differences.
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