MEMORIES of money were sparked at a Tyneside care home after residents were loaned a reminiscence box from The Royal Mint Museum.
The “museum in a box”, containing out-of-circulation replica and original coins, photographs, pamphlets and newspapers, was sent to Waverley Lodge Care Home, Bewick Crescent, Lemington, Newcastle.
The initiative was launched by The Royal Mint Museum to mark the 50th anniversary of Britain’s switch to decimal currency in February 1971 – leaving behind the centuries old system of pounds, shillings and pence to a new currency based on 100 pennies to the pound.
Residents were able to handle the items, each fitted with a special micro-chip that, when placed on the box, played audio clips telling the history of the object.
Among the items was a wallet containing a set of Britain’s first decimal coins, a photograph of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visiting Llantrisant, Wales, to open the new mint, an information booklet and decimal currency poster.
The activity sparked memories among many of those living at the care home, with many recalling how they used to spend their first wage packet.
Kenneth Sandercock, 77, said: “When I left school, I started working in a garage on Walker Road, where I earned £2.50 a week. I remember a pound was around 20 shillings and a two-bob bit was around 10p. I didn’t have enough money to go to a Newcastle United game, though, as it was 8p a ticket.”
Margaret Ovington, 81, said: “We didn’t have much money when I was growing up. My mam and dad spent around a half crown at the shops to buy food. When I started getting my own wages, I remember going to the cinema with friends, but I can’t remember how much it was.”
Irene Bolam, 94, said: “I used to spend my whole weeks wages on a new outfit and go for fish and chips with my boyfriend. I don’t remember how much I earned though.”
Julie Booth, home manager at Waverley Lodge Care Home, said: “The museum in a box experience was so wonderful for the residents.
“It brought back so many memories for them of their younger years and what they used to do with their first wages. We heard so many fascinating stories.
“We’d all like to thank The Royal Mint Museum for loaning us the museum in a box. Everyone at the home thoroughly enjoyed it.”
Dr Kevin Clancy, director of The Royal Mint Museum, said: “This February marks 50 years since Britain’s currency became decimal, introducing the coins and currency we know today. As one of the most important museums dedicated to telling the story of Britain’s money, we wanted to capture the nation’s experience of decimalisation, and provide an engaging activity for the those who lived through it.
“Each box contains a collection of original and replica objects to bring back memories of decimalisation and use the latest technology to ‘talk’ to residents. We hope the boxes will help people relive cherished memories and bring a little fun during these tough times.”
The museum’s well-being project is part of a national programme of activities with the aim of sparking memories of the currency changeover. To learn more visit www.royalmintmuseum.org.uk/decimalisation.