Decimalisation and The Next Generation

15 February 2014

Today, having only just arrived back from Australia (yesterday morning UK time!) following the Unlock The Past cruise (yes, cruise report to follow), I am in Telford, leading a Guild Seminar to showcase the work of ‘The Next Generation’ of one-name (surname) studies and indeed, studiers. All the lecturers are aged 40 or less and all are female! Super star presenters Jo Tillin (@JoFullCircle) and Karen Bailey (@tekaybe) this morning, Amy Smith and Rosemary Smith this afternoon… Exciting times!

Many of those lecturers, including myself, were not around before decimalisation which happened today in 1971. No longer was the pound divided into 20 shillings of 12 pence each – the ‘new penny’ was worth one-hundredth of a pound, and the former shilling was worth 5p. Some of the new coins had been introduced two or three years earlier: 5p and 10p pieces were used interchangeably with the shilling and florin (two-shilling piece) from 1968, and the 50p coin, with its unique heptagonal shape, replaced the ten-shilling note in 1969.

The currency changeover went relatively smoothly and despite some opposition, the ease of performing basic calculations in decimal units won over doubters. Pre-decimal coins were phased out gradually but it took a long time before people stopped the habit of mentally converting any price that seemed ludicrous: ‘Eighty pence? That’s sixteen shillings – what a rip-off!’

If you haven’t attended today’s Next Generation seminar, you simply must watch the recording…. what a future family history has with these amazing ladies.

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