Here's everything we know so far about the new £20 polymer note - what it looks like, what it's made of and when it comes out

James Somper
The new note featuring JMW Turner (Source: Bank of England)

The first images of the proposed new £20 note have been released by the Bank of England.

Made from the same plastic polymer which is currently used to make the new £5 note, the new note will feature an image of the acclaimed British artist JMW Turner.

Turner was selected after Governor of the Bank, Mark Carney invited the public to nominate a list of people worthy of appearing on the new note, with nominees ranging from the film director, Sir Alfred Hitchcock to the artist and poet, William Blake.

The design, which depicts the artist’s self-portrait fronted over one of his most famous paintings, "The Fighting Temeraire" also features a quote from an 1818 lecture by Turner: “Light is therefore colour.”

Previously, all notes were made from paper though the new polymer material will be gradually phased in from 2020 after which all notes apart from the £50 one will be made from the new material.

Last month, the bank came under fire after it emerged that tallow - a substance made from animal and used in the production of wax - was used in the production of the protective polymer coating, with a petition protesting the decision gaining more than 130,000 signatures.

However, the bank refused to withdraw the note from circulation, issuing a statement saying that it was “not aware of the presence of animal-derived products when it signed the contract with its supplier for the £5 and £10 banknote polymer”.

It said that after careful consideration it has concluded “that it would be appropriate to keep the £5 polymer note in circulation and to issue the £10 polymer note as planned, in September”.

Turner was the successful nominee from a shortlist of five:

  • JMW Turner 
  • Barbara Hepworth
  • Charlie Chaplin
  • Josiah Wedgwood
  • William Hogarth

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