What should cabbies and the public be looking out for on the new £20 banknote?


Image credit: Bank of England

The new £20 note has been unveiled ready for release on 20 February 2020.


The polymer £20 note contains sophisticated security features making it the most secure Bank of England banknote yet. For the first time, the note incorporates two windows and a two-colour foil, making it very difficult to counterfeit.

Polymer notes last longer than paper notes and they stay in better condition during day-to-day use. This note, like the polymer £10, will contain a tactile feature to help vision impaired people identify the denomination.


The public can continue to spend paper £20 notes as usual and these will be gradually withdrawn as they are banked by retailers and the public. Notice will be given six months ahead of legal tender status of the paper £20 being withdrawn.


Mark Carney, Bank of England Governor, said: “Our banknotes celebrate the UK’s heritage, salute its culture, and testify to the achievements of its most notable individuals.  And so it is with the new £20 banknote, featuring JMW Turner, launched today at Turner Contemporary in Margate.  Turner’s contribution to art extends well beyond his favourite stretch of shoreline.  Turner’s painting was transformative, his influence spanned lifetimes, and his legacy endures today. The new £20 note celebrates Turner, his art and his legacy in all their radiant, colourful, evocative glory.”


So what should cabbies be looking for when scrutinising the new note?


Features on the new £20 note include:

  • A large see-through window with a blue and gold foil on the front depicting Margate lighthouse and Turner Contemporary. The foil is silver on the back. The shape of the large window is based on the shape of the fountains in Trafalgar Square.

  • A smaller see-through window in the bottom corner of the note, inspired by Tintern Abbey.

  • JMW Turner’s self-portrait, painted c. 1799 and currently on display in Tate Britain.

  • One of Turner’s most eminent paintings The Fighting Temeraire; a tribute to the ship HMS Temeraire which played a distinguished role in Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The painting is currently on display in the National Gallery and was voted the nation’s favourite painting in a 2005 poll run by BBC Radio 4. 

  • A metallic hologram which changes between the word ‘Twenty’ and ‘Pounds’ when the note is tilted.

  • The Queen’s portrait in the see-through window with ‘£20 Bank of England’ printed twice around the edge.

  • A silver foil patch with a 3D image of the coronation crown. A purple foil patch containing the letter ‘T’ and based on the staircase at the Tate Britain.

  • A quote “Light is therefore colour” from an 1818 lecture by Turner referring to the innovative use of light, shade, colour and tone in his pictures.

  • Turner’s signature from his Will, the document with which he bequeathed many of his paintings to the nation.

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