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The new Alan Turing £50 note enters circulation tomorrow on what would have been his 109th birthday

The new banknote features odes to the codebreaker’s many achievements throughout his lifetime.

Emily Sergeant Emily Sergeant - 22nd June 2021

A new £50 banknote featuring Alan Turing is set to enter circulation in the UK tomorrow on what would have been the codebreaker’s 109th birthday.

The striking design for the banknote – which is the final UK banknote to switch to polymer – was unveiled by the Bank of England back in March to a warm reception from the public, and features a photo of Turing taken in 1951.

It also features his signatures and several odes to things he achieved in his lifetime.

Turing’s birth date written in binary code is also included on the design, as well as mathematical formulae from a paper he wrote in 1936, and a quote he gave to the press in 1949.

“This is only a foretaste of what is to come, and only the shadow of what is going to be.” the quote reads.


Speaking on the importance of the new £50 ahead of its introduction into circulation tomorrow, Jeremy Fleming – Director of Britain’s intelligence agency GCHQ – said: “Alan Turing’s appearance on the £50 note is a landmark moment in our history. 

“Not only is it a celebration of his scientific genius which helped to shorten the war and influence the technology we still use today, it also confirms his status as one of the most iconic LGBT+ figures in the world. 


“Turing was embraced for his brilliance and persecuted for being gay.

“His legacy is a reminder of the value of embracing all aspects of diversity, but also the work we still need to do to become truly inclusive.”

Alan Turing was born on 23 April 1912, and went on to establish a legacy that saw him become widely regarded as a father of modern technology – having helped to develop the Manchester computers and whose lauded codebreaking work at Bletchley Park during WWII helped to turn the tide in favour of the Allies.


In 1952, Turing was found guilty of indecency over his relationship with another man he met on Oxford Road and was required to undergo treatment to reduce his libido.

Turing then took his own life in 1954.

The £50 note is set to enter circulation in the UK tomorrow on Alan Turing’s birthday / Credit: Bank of England

A memorial to Turing was unveiled in Sackville Park in Manchester city centre in 2001, and the school of mathematics building at the University of Manchester also bears his name as a fitting tribute to his legacy.

Queen Elizabeth II granted Turing a posthumous pardon in 2013.

The “Alan Turing law” is now an informal term for 2017 legislation that retroactively pardoned men cautioned or convicted for homosexual acts.


A major new cybersecurity exhibition – Top Secret: From ciphers to cybersecurity – is currently welcoming visitors at Manchester’s Science and Industry Museum, featuring over a century’s worth of secret communications and intelligence and containing over 100 objects from GCHQ and the Science Museum Group.

The exhibition also includes, for the first time, objects related to Alan Turing and his team’s work intercepting German comms at Bletchley Park.

Running right through to 31 August, you can find more information about the exhibition here.

Featured Image – Bank of England