MEMORIES of money were sparked at a Northumberland 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 The Oaks Care Home, Durban Street, Blyth.
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 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 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 many of those living at the care home, some of whom can recall the change from the centuries old system of pounds, shillings and pence to a new currency based on 100 pennies to the pound.
John Jack Hall, 83, said: “In school, a lot of my friends and myself struggled in mathematics, so it was difficult when the money changed.
“Us kids eventually got used to the change as we learned the new coins but our parents struggled and didn’t have a clue when they went to the shops.
“My dad owned a pub and a pint of beer cost a shilling and a half pint was six pence. Some of the customers used to try and saw their coins in half so their money would last longer but this was impossible as they were made out of copper.
“I worked as an apprentice at the age of 16 and made £5 two shillings on my first pay packet. I used to travel back and forth to work on my bike and my tyre broke after I got my first pay packet, so it was all spent on a new tyre. My mum was absolutely furious with me as I was meant to give all my wage to her for the household.”
Hayley Thompson, activities coordinator at The Oaks 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.