Throughout centuries of wars, political upheavals, and scientific advancements, The Royal Mint has stood as a symbol of British history, reflected in our nation’s coins. However, it was a momentous day in December, 50 years ago, when The Queen inaugurated the new site of The Royal Mint in Llantrisant, marking a significant milestone in the evolution of our coinage.
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The Move to Llantrisant
In 1966, it was evident that Britain needed a new decimal currency. With the requirement to strike hundreds of millions of new coins, the original location at Tower Hill in London couldn’t accommodate this growing demand. Hence, the decision was made to find a suitable new site for The Royal Mint. After considering various options, Llantrisant emerged as one of the top seven contenders. Supported by James Callaghan, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Master of the Mint, and an MP for Cardiff, Llantrisant was eventually chosen as the new home for The Royal Mint.
Britain’s New Mint
The announcement was made in 1967, and soon afterward, construction commenced on the new site. The move to Llantrisant brought with it a wave of economic rejuvenation and a sense of historical grandeur to the town. It was estimated that the relocation would provide a significant boost of 10,000 jobs to South Wales. In 1968, Her Majesty The Queen officially inaugurated the site by initiating the coining presses, thus commencing the production of decimal bronze coins.
Llantrisant was built to house the most advanced coining machinery in the world, with a capacity larger than any other mint in Europe, necessary to meet the demands of the new coinage. Initially, the circulating coin presses could strike up to 200 coins per minute. However, the latest generation of presses can produce an impressive 750 coins per minute!
Decimalisation of Britain’s Coins
February 15th, 1971, is known as the day Britain “went decimal.” However, three years prior to this momentous occasion, the new 5p and 10p coins were introduced. These coins were identical in size and value to the existing one- and two-shilling coins, easing the transition for the British public. In 1969, the first seven-sided coin, the 50p, was introduced as a more economical alternative to the 10-shilling note. Finally, on Monday, February 15th, 1971, the transition was complete with the introduction of the half penny, 1p, and 2p coins.
The new Mint at Llantrisant successfully transformed the everyday currency of Britain from the old system of 12 pennies to a shilling and 20 shillings to a pound, to the new pound consisting of 100 new pence.
The Royal Mint Today
Today, The Royal Mint is the market leader and Europe’s largest supplier of plated coins and blanks. With the advanced facilities at Llantrisant, they have the capacity to produce an astounding 90 million coins and blanks per week, totaling nearly 5 billion coins per year. Thanks to these facilities, the transition to decimal coinage became a reality.
To commemorate the relocation of The Royal Mint to Llantrisant, you now have the opportunity to own the Royal Mint in Wales 50th Anniversary DateStampTM. This special item features the 2016 Wales £20 coin with the iconic Welsh dragon design, postmarked on December 17th, 2018, precisely 50 years since The Royal Mint made its move to Wales.
Click here to secure your piece of history and celebrate the legacy of The Royal Mint in Wales.