50 years of The Royal Mint at Llantrisant… The move to decimalisation
Standing strong for over 1,100 years throughout Britain’s wars, political upheavals, social and economic progress and technological and scientific advances, The Royal Mint’s history can be traced back through our country’s coinage.
But it was on the 17th of December 50 years ago that The Queen herself opened the new site for The Royal Mint, which was moved to a purpose-built site in Llantrisant following 157 years at Tower Hill, London.
This was the first time since its inception that The Royal Mint had been based outside of London, and marked an incredibly important moment in the history of our coins.
The move to Llantrisant
In 1966 it was announced that Britain would adopt a new decimal currency. This meant that hundreds of millions of new coins would need striking and Tower Hill simply didn’t have enough space to cope with this demand and so the decision was made to find a new location for The Royal Mint.
Llantrisant made it onto the shortlist of the top 7 locations, and as James Callaghan (Chancellor of the Exchequer, Master of the Mint and an MP for Cardiff) supported a move to Wales, Llantrisant was chosen for the big move.
Britain’s new Mint
The announcement was made in 1967 and construction soon began on the new site. For the Llantrisant area, the move meant more work and a regeneration of the town, as well as adding to the sense of history and tradition. It was estimated that the move would provide 10,000 jobs to South Wales.
It was in 1968 that the site was officially opened by Her Majesty The Queen when she switched on the coining presses to begin production of decimal bronze coins.
Llantrisant was built to house the most advanced coining machinery in the world and have a larger capacity than any other mint in Europe, necessary to cope with the amount of new coinage needed.
When the site opened, the circulating coin presses could strike up to 200 coins per minute, however the latest generation of presses today strike around 750 coins per minute!
Decimalisation of Britain’s coins
The 15th of February 1971 is known as the day that Britain “went decimal”.
Whilst this was the official ‘Decimal Day’, three years before this, the new 5p and 10p coins were actually introduced. These coins were the same size and value as the existing one and two shilling coins to make the transition easier for the British public.
It was in 1969 that the first seven sided coin – the 50p – was introduced to replace the 10-shilling note as a more economical alternative and then finally, on Monday 15 February 1971, the transition was complete when the half penny, 1p and 2p coins were also introduced.
The new Mint at Llantrisant successfully transformed hundreds of years of everyday currency from 12 pennies to the shilling and 20 shillings to the pound, to the new pound made from 100 new pence.
Today the Royal Mint is the market leader and the largest single supplier of plated coins and blanks in Europe. They can produce 90 million coins and blanks a week – that’s almost 5 billion coins a year!
And all this has been made possible thanks to the advanced facilities at Llantrisant, as pictured above, without which the move to decimal coinage simply wouldn’t have been possible.
Own this Historic Royal Mint anniversary DateStamp™
To mark the move of The Royal Mint to Llandistrant, you have the opportunity to own the Royal Mint in Wales 50th Anniversary DateStampTM.
Featuring the 2016 Wales £20 coin with the iconic Welsh dragon design, and postmarked 17th December 2018, exactly 50 years since The Royal Mint moved to Wales.
Hi Rachel, I love collecting coins and have been doing for many years now. But over the last year or so I have become fascinated with pre decimal coins and have become quite educated on the subject. I think it would be great if there was a pre decimla section to the ‘My Collection’ part of the site so that we can keep track of which pre decimal coins we have as well as decimal ones! Kind regards and a Merry Christmas, Daniel
Hi Daniel, so glad to hear about your passion for coin collecting and pre decimal coins in particular. There are some really fascinating pre decimal coins out there and I agree that it would be great to have them on the Change Checker site. Unfortunately it isn’t something we have in the pipeline at the moment as we focus mainly on the coins people can collect in their change, however it’s a really good idea and perhaps something we should consider for the future. Merry Christmas Daniel!
I remember moving your old machinery from Tower Hill to Llandrrisant all those years ago, I was only 21 working for a firm called Dallas Transport. Really heavy machinery, had to place them by hand using block and tackle. Spent a few nights in Cardiff B&B
What an incredible memory! It must have been incredibly hard work. Thanks for sharing Peter.