Everything you need to know about the new £5 banknote

The new £5 note

We’re getting a new £5 note! And guess what, it’s plastic. Exciting eh? The first new plastic £5 notes will be issued by the Bank of England this year (13th September) and will cost £70million to develop (that’s around 7p each to print).

Of course, the Queen will be on one side, but replacing prison reformer Elizabeth Fry is amazingly not Ant and Dec or Su-Bo, but Sir Winston Churchill. The Bank of England said that it seeks to celebrate individuals “that have shaped British thought, innovation, leadership, values and society” on its note. Well, it’s fair to say Sir Winston Churchill did that.

Why plastic?

Bank of England governor Mark Carney said “These notes will stand the test of time. Polymer marks a major innovation - it’s cleaner, safer and stronger.” (Which sounds like a Daft Punk song to us).

It has cooked them in ovens, drowned them in red wine, stuck them in the microwave and run them through a 90C washing machine with persil washing powder. They are built to last!

You also won’t be able to accidently tear the note. Reporters at the Bank’s launch event were given the chance to rip, scrunch and eat the notes but weren’t able to do it. HOWEVER, if they do get a small rip, they will then tear easily.

Any problems with the new note?

Well the benefits outweigh the negatives, but the Bank of England have acknowledged there are a couple of tiny snags. The notes can stick together (which means you could hand over more than you wanted to). The Bank admits that “brand new polymer notes can sometimes stick together, but this effect is short-lived once in use”.

They also begin to melt at 120C, which is fine (the UK ain’t that hot!), but if you leave a note in your pocket and iron over it, it will distort and shrink in size. “We’re aware that polymer banknotes begin to shrink and melt at temperatures above 120C, so they can be damaged by an iron”.

Are there extra security features?

The Bank of England dealt with 240,000 counterfeit notes last year, so the hope is the new bank notes are harder to copy as they feature a clear plastic window, as well as the usual holograms. The list of security features on the new note include:

  • A see-through window featuring the Queen’s portrait. The border of the window changes from purple to green.
  • Big Ben shown in gold foil on the front of the note and silver on the back.
  • A hologram which contains the word ‘Five and changes to ‘Pounds’ when the note is tilted.
  • A hologram of the coronation crown which appears 3D and multi-coloured when the note is tilted.
  • A green foil hologram of the maze at Blenheim Palace, Churchill’s birthplace and ancestral home.
  • Micro-lettering beneath the Queen’s portrait with tiny letters and number that are visible under a microscope.
  • The words ‘Bank of England printed in raised ink along the top of the note.

Basically, all this makes it incredibly difficult to replicate.