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Victoria Cleland, chief cashier at the Bank of England
Andy Parsons

Things you only know if you’re chief cashier at the Bank of England

Danielle Goldstein

…according to Victoria Cleland, 47.

There’s a £100 million note

‘The £100m note is known as the “titan” and we also have a £1m note called the “giant”. These are used mainly for accounting purposes. There are over £4bn worth of them and they’re kept very safe in the bank’s vaults – though if anyone managed to steal one they’d struggle to buy anything with it in the local shops.’

You can always cash in your old banknotes (even the ancient ones)

‘New notes tend to be better in quality and counterfeit resilience, so we like to withdraw all old notes. But people will occasionally find one down the back of the sofa, so even when the high-street banks stop accepting old notes, the Bank of England will always exchange them. Some people still bring in the old £5 notes that are almost A5 size.’

The new tenners still contain animal fat

‘We’ve been working very hard on the new £10 note featuring Jane Austen that’s coming out on September 14. We weren’t aware of the traces of animal tallow when we introduced the polymer £5 note last year, but once we made the discovery we had a public consultation and looked at the alternative, which was palm oil. People on the whole didn’t like the animal traces but didn’t like palm oil either. In the end we decided we’d stay with the current composition.’

Despite cashless technology, there is more paper money than ever

‘I’m always surprised at the sheer value of notes in circulation. Over £70bn worth of bank notes are out there and we still needed to issue 10 percent more last year. People still like having a tangible note in their hands and in their wallets.’

Now discover the things you only know if you’re Lord Mayor of London.


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