Today marks 41 years since the nation woke up to decimalisation, or as it was coined by The Daily Mail, the day ‘Britain lost its soul.’ On February 15 1971, Edward Heath’s government formally abolished the old coinage; gone were the crowns florins and shillings of yesteryear, replaced by shiny 5 and 10 pence pieces. The move to decimalisation wasn’t universally well received, in London, the decimal terrorists took to the streets of the West End, flyering on the evils of the decimal point.
The capital’s department stores were much less reticent; Selfridges employed a troop of girls dressed in shorts, midi split skirts and other suitably mathematic costumes, while Harrods boasted a small army of ‘decimal pennies’, in jaunty boaters and blue sashes to assist confused shoppers. Meanwhile in Croydon, Sainsburys who’d launched their first ‘decimal shop’ a year before to help train their 25,000 workforce for D-Day, gave local pensioners a new pound to spend in the store. The process of decimalisation ran so smoothly, it was branded as ‘the biggest non-event of the year’. Poundland must have been relived; ‘that’ll be 240 pence please’. Didi Mae Hand
Max Bygraves catchy decimalisation tune: