MEMORIES of money were sparked at two Teesside care homes after residents loaned reminiscence boxes from The Royal Mint Museum.
The “museum in a box” experiences were sent to Mandale House Care Home, Acklam Road, Thornaby, and Ingleby Care Home, Lamb Lane, Ingleby Barwick.
The initiative was launched by The Royal Mint Museum to mark the 50th anniversary of Britain’s switch to decimal currency in February 1971.
Residents at the Hill Care Group homes were able to handle items including out-of-circulation replica and original coins, photographs, pamphlets and newspapers.
Each item was fitted with a special micro-chip that, when placed on the box, played audio clips telling the history of the object.
Among them 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 those at the care homes, many recalling the change from the centuries old system of pounds, shillings and pence to a new currency based on 100 pennies to the pound.
Joan Cox, 82, said: “It was very interesting. I worked in a shop when the money changed and I remember the experience well.”
Edward Nicholson, 94, said: “When the currency switched, I had a pocket tool that changed the decimals for you. I’m pretty sure I still have it lying around.”
Sarah Robinson, activities coordinator at Mandale House Care Home, said: “One of our residents, Patricia Rowney, took the time to teach me the difference between the old coins and what they would be in our money today. I’m 34, so it was my first time seeing them.
“The radio aspect of the museum in a box was as informative for me as it was for the residents. It was a huge help for the reminiscence session and had many of the residents talking about their pasts and remembering the currency switch.
“Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the experience and asked when the next session will be.”
At Ingleby Care Home, the activity brought back memories of her first job for resident Dorothy Atkinson, 91. She said: “I used to get £6 a month for nursing and I used to pay mum £1 10 shillings because you had to in them days.
“It would cost me 20 shillings for the bus and I’d be left with £3 10 shillings to last the month, but that got us toiletries, to the dance and the cinema.”
Kirsty Walsh, activities coordinator at Ingleby Care Home, said: “Residents thoroughly enjoyed reminiscing and having a look through the photos and the old coins.
“We’d all like to thank The Royal Mint Museum for loaning us the museum in a box.”
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.