The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street opens her doors to CIPS Fellows

Gurjit Degun
5 December 2013

Gurjit Degun © Akin Falope5 December 2013 | Gurjit Degun

CIPS Fellows had the privilege of scrutinising images of keys and lions – both symbolising security – embedded within the classic interiors of the Bank of England on Tuesday evening as part of a private tour.

A Roman mosaic, portraits of former governors and a selection of gifts the Old Lady has received were also talking points during the tour. Not to mention a trip to the rooftop to take in the modern London skyline, including the Walkie Talkie, Gherkin, Heron Tower, and Shard skyscrapers.

The group heard from Victoria Cleland, head of banknotes division, who provided an insight into the banknotes cycle. She emphasised the Bank works hard to get rid of any worn-out notes so they always look genuine. Old banknotes are destroyed and used as compost.

Cleland said the Bank must also plan for any surge in people needing banknotes, for example over the Christmas period or particular events such as the Olympic Games. At the same time, it needs to make sure it doesn’t flood the market with notes. Far from the online revolution, Cleland said the Bank is seeing a steady increase in the demand for notes. There is £60 billion worth of banknotes out there, according to Cleland, which averages at around £1,000 per person.

There are elements of the process that are outsourced, for example, notes are printed by De La Rue. But as some of the banknotes are set to change from 2016, the Bank is currently in the process of re-tendering this contract.

The new notes fascinated the audience, especially when a selection of the new £5 and £10 notes were passed around. The Bank has just finished consulting with the public on the new style of notes, which are made from polymer instead of paper.

Cleland said the new notes will stay cleaner, keep their shape for longer and have a low carbon footprint. They also include a window, which is very difficult to replicate. Although production costs will be high at the beginning, the Bank estimates a saving of £100 million over 10 years.

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