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Commemorative £5 will be the first fully polymer note

22nd May 2014

Clydesdale Bank today (22nd May 2014) unveiled what will be the first fully polymer banknote to enter circulation in Great Britain.  Introduced to commemorate the nomination of the Forth Bridge for inclusion in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2014, the new £5 banknote combines images of the bridge’s structure with the use of modern technology to create a striking and complex design. The limited production run of the new polymer notes is scheduled to coincide with the 125th anniversary of the opening of the bridge in March 2015, with two million notes to be issued through Clydesdale Bank branches.

The new £5 note, which is smaller than the existing currency, has been designed by De La Rue plc and in a first for Europe, has been manufactured on its innovative Safeguard™ polymer substrate. Polymer notes are proven to be more durable than existing currency and while no decision has been made by the Bank regarding the introduction of polymer notes generally, many banks are considering the introduction of polymer rather than using the traditional cotton based substrate.

The commemorative banknote, in keeping with the Bank’s award winning World Heritage Series, also features the image of a prominent and innovative Scot in its design. A portrait of Sir William Arrol, one of Scotland’s most celebrated engineers, appears on the front of the note. His company - Sir William Arrol and Co. – constructed the Forth Bridge and was also responsible for a number of other famous structures including the giant cantilever Titan Crane in Clydebank which also features on the new note.

Clydesdale Bank has been issuing banknotes since 1838 and the new £5 note continues the Bank’s history of innovation with the inclusion of a Spark® Orbital™ security feature for the first time on UK currency. Spark® Orbital™ is a high impact visual feature that combines a colour changing effect with movement and is used in the depiction of a map of Scotland. The feature is displayed over a transparent polymer window which allows its eye-catching effects to be viewed from both sides of the note.

Debbie Crosbie, Executive Director at Clydesdale Bank, said: “Clydesdale Bank is very proud to commemorate the Forth Bridge on our new £5 note. The structure is renowned across the world as an incredible feat of engineering so it was a fitting choice for a ground-breaking new banknote.

“We continue to lead the way in banknote development, and following the successful introduction of a new series of notes with ‘Depth™ Image’ holograms in 2009 we are now at the forefront in polymer currency. The Forth Bridge’s super structure certainly lends itself to the intricate processes of banknote printing, combining security, durability and an aesthetically striking design.”

Rt Hon. Alistair Carmichael MP, Secretary of State for Scotland, said: “I am pleased that Clydesdale Bank will commemorate the Forth Bridge on its new £5 note.  The Forth Bridge truly reflects Scotland’s position as a pioneer of engineering, construction and its recent nomination to become a UNESCO World Heritage site reflects its global status.

“As this new note becomes part of everyday life in villages, towns, cities and communities across the country, it will serve as a fitting tribute to the vision of Sir William Arrol and all the people who have contributed to the building, maintenance and restoration of the Bridge in its 124 year history.”

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs welcomed the launch of the banknote. She said: “Today we are celebrating two eras of Scotland’s innovation and foresight. The introduction of this innovative new banknote featuring the iconic Forth Bridge as a symbol of Scotland’s engineering heritage and ingenuity is very welcome.

“We are immensely proud of the Forth Bridge and its nomination for inclusion in UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The launch of this banknote is such a fitting way to mark this nomination and Sir William Arrol’s work and I applaud the Clydesdale Bank for this gesture.”

Clydesdale Bank introduces around £400 million of new notes every year and has an average of £1.8bn worth of notes in circulation in Scotland each day making the Bank the largest issuer by volume.

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