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29 Jun 2021

Royal Bank unveils design of new polymer Scottish £50 note

The note features an illustration of Scottish education pioneer Flora Stevenson and will enter circulation on 18 August.

Royal Bank of Scotland has unveiled the design of its first polymer £50 note. Featuring the image of historic Scottish educationalist Flora Stevenson, this is the bank’s first £50 note to feature a woman on its face.

The £50 – which has been designed in consultation with the public – is the fourth in the bank’s ‘Fabric of Nature’ series, and includes illustrations of the Scottish osprey on its reverse and will join Royal Bank’s £5, £10 and £20 when it enters circulation on August 18.

Pupils at Edinburgh’s Flora Stevenson school were the first members of the public to see the new note. 

Designed in partnership with leading Scottish arts’ organisations and designers including Graven Images, Nile, Stucco, Timrous Beasties, O’Street and the Glasgow School of Art, the £50 is made from De La Rue’s Safeguard® polymer material and will also contain a variety of new security features, making it difficult to counterfeit but easy to authenticate. 

In reference to Flora Stevenson and the Victorian school which bears her name, one security feature includes an image of a ‘gird and cleek’ – a classic 19th century toy – which is only visible under UV light. 

Flora, who was born in Glasgow was a British social reformer with a special interest in education for poor or neglected children, and in education for girls. She was one of the first women in the United Kingdom to be elected to a school board. The primary school, named after her, opened in 1899, the year of her 60th birthday. She passed away in 1905.

In designing the new notes, Royal Bank of Scotland launched the People’s Money programme and engaged with thousands of people across Scotland through workshops, online communities and polling surveys. 

As a result, ‘Fabric of Nature’ was chosen as the theme. The choice of Flora Stevenson for the £50 note was taken by Royal Bank’s Scotland Regional Board. 

Malcolm Buchanan, Royal Bank of Scotland’s Scotland Regional board chair, said: 

“At Royal Bank of Scotland, we feel that a banknote’s value is more than just the figure printed across its front - it is our symbol which lives in people’s pockets and touches everyday lives. Flora Stevenson’s legacy touches so many aspects of Scottish life that we, as a nation, are justifiably proud; education, dedication and creating opportunities for all.”

“Choosing the design of the £50 note was an important decision for Royal Bank and that is why we wanted the public and our communities to help us decide how this note should look and feel and who should appear on its face. Flora’s impact on education, directly and indirectly, has led to opportunities for many generations. It feels right to celebrate her impact in this way.”

Sonja Brown, headteacher at Flora Stevenson School, said: 

“It is great that Flora Stevenson has been selected to appear on the new Royal Bank of Scotland £50 note. Our school helps support nearly 700 pupils in Edinburgh and as an institution which carries her name, we are quite aware of the impact she has had on Scottish society and education. Her appearance on the note will make many others aware of her positive impact on Scottish society.

“To find the face of the founder of our school on the forthcoming note has been an inspiration for our pupils and some are already taking part in class project to learn more on her story. I’m sure they will all be excited when they return from the school holidays and see the note when it enters circulation.”

The Polymer £50 will follow the £5 Polymer note, which was launched in 2016 and features poet Nan Shepherd, the £10 Polymer which was launched in 2017 and includes the portrait of scientist Mary Somerville, and the £20 – the bank’s largest circulating note which features philanthropist Kate Cranston, which was launched in 2020.

 

Images show pupils from Flora Stevenson Primary School in Edinburgh with new note.

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