MORE than half a century after his death Winston Churchill finally has his own fiver, and it will be the Back of England’s very first plastic banknote, to be unveiled today and out in circulation by September.
The ceremonial event welcoming the Churchill fiver, in the pipeline since 2013, takes place at his aristocratic home, Blenheim Palace, and represents the beginning of the end for the 320 year history of paper money.
Gradually the Bank of England will implement the switch to polymer, with a Jane Austen tenner to be released next year, and a JMW Turner £20 expected by the turn of the decade.
Though long in the planning, the transition will involve a huge effort in reforming ATMs, vending machines, and business practices to accept polymer, though plastic is already in use in many countries across the world, including Canada, Mexico and Australia.
Particularly suited for tropical countries, Australia was the first to introduce plastic banknotes in 1988 and other nations have followed suit to take advantage of their longer lifespan and less susceptibility to counterfeit.
They are, however, harder to fold, slippery, and would create toxic fumes when melted or burned. Paper Churchill has a melting point of 120C, significantly higher than the man himself.
The Churchill fiver will feature the wartime leader standing impassively beside Westminster as Big Ben strikes 3pm, roughly the time when he gave his inspirational ‘blood, toil, tears, and sweat’ speech to the nation.