Wednesday, 2 November 2011
A new £50 banknote has been issued today by the Bank of England. On it are the portraits of Matthew Boulton and James Watt. Boulton (1728-1809) was an industrialist and entrenpreneur, and Watt (1736-1819) was an engineer and scientist, who, amongst other things, introduced the term "horsepower" and had the metric unit of power (the "watt") named after him. With Boulton's backing, Watt developed the industrial steam engine, using his machinery for the spinning of cotton and even the minting of coins. You can see one of their original engines in operation here (it's now in a museum in Sydney).
This BBC article explores some of the other historical figures on British banknotes, including:
£5 - Elizabeth Fry, social reformer, who had a great influence over the design and management of prisons during the 19th Century
£10 - Charles Darwin, scientist who wrote the "Origin of Species" and proposed the theory of evolution
£20 - Adam Smith, economist who wrote "The Wealth of Nations" and proposed the theory of the division of labour.
There's also a link to this great list from the Bank of England of future candidates for banknotes, including Geoffrey Chaucer, Olaudah Equiano and...Sir Jimmy Saville. You can nominate your own candidates, and we think there is rather a small number of women on the list, so get writing in!