Quick, you’ve got to spend £400m by next Sun­day

The Mail on Sunday - - News -

THERE is just one week left un­til the old, round £1 coins are phased out – and the hunt is on for an es­ti­mated 400 mil­lion that are still in cir­cu­la­tion in purses, piggy banks and down the backs of so­fas.

Next Sun­day the old pounds cease to be legal ten­der. It means shops and busi­nesses are no longer obliged to ac­cept them, al­though there will be an un­spec­i­fied pe­riod dur­ing which they can be ex­changed at banks for the new 12-sided coins. The new coins are made by re­cy­cling the old ones and more than two mil­lion a day are be­ing melted down at the Royal Mint’s fortress-like foundry, in Llantrisant, out­side Cardiff.

Work­ers feed 55,000 old coins at a time into four fur­naces, where they are melted at 1,500C. The com­po­si­tion of the liq­uid al­loy is ad­justed by adding sev­eral se­cret in­gre­di­ents be­fore it is pro­cessed into sheets weigh­ing 2½ tons, from which the new coins are punched out. More than £1.7 bil­lion of the old coins, which were in­tro­duced in 1983, have so far been sent back to the Mint for re­pro­cess­ing. One worker said: ‘If you think about the money you are han­dling, it does your head in. I try to just think of it as metal.’ As the old coins, left, van­ish, the most sober­ing statis­tic is how their value has melted with time. In 1983, each was worth the equiv­a­lent of £3.10 to­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.