This is who features on the new £20 note - and why they were chosen

Thursday, 20th February 2020, 11:43 am
Updated Thursday, 20th February 2020, 11:44 am

The Bank of England has released new £20 notes into circulation that are made of a waterproof polymer - but whose face will be printed on them?

Adam Smith’s austere-looking profile has been a fixture of the paper £20 note since 2007. However, the Scottish economist has been replaced on the new polymer notes issued by the Bank of England today (20 Feb).

Instead, Brits will peer down at the face of artist JMW Turner when they pay for goods in future. The romantic painter topped a nationwide vote conducted by the Bank of England on who should be celebrated on the polymer bills.

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The new notes became legal tender from this morning, as the Bank of England begins gradually phasing out paper notes.

Already available from the Bank of England itself, the new polymer notes will be rolled out to cash machines across the country in the coming weeks.

Who was JWM Turner?

Joseph Mallord William Turner, commonly known as William Turner, was born in Covent Garden in London in 1775.

A child prodigy, Turner entered the Royal Academy of Art aged just 14, where he studied under Sir Joshua Reynolds. His work is renowned for its dramatic settings, and the recurring themes of fire, shipwrecks, storms, and sunlight.

By the time of his death from cholera in December 1851, Turner’s reputation in Britain was so great that he was interred in St Paul’s Cathedral, alongside national heroes like the Duke of Wellington, Admiral Lord Nelson, and Sir Christopher Wren.

How to exchange old notes

Although the new £20 polymer notes will enter circulation from today, you can still continue to use the paper notes. The Bank of England will give the public six months’ notice before it begins withdrawing the old bills from circulation.

Once this happens, the simplest way to exchange old notes for new ones is at your bank. The Post Office may also accept withdrawn notes as payment or as a deposit into any bank account you can access with them.