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 Willowdene Care Home, Victoria Road West, Hebburn.
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 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, 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.
A photograph of the Chancellor of the Exchequer from October 1964 to November 1967, James Callaghan, had one resident telling the story of when she met the famous politician – who later became Prime Minister.
Maureen Ingram, 86, was a shop steward for the South Tyneside Council school meals programme, having worked as head cook at various schools across the region.
She attended a union meeting in Durham in the early 70s at which James Callaghan, then home secretary, was present to hear the concerns of employees at the shipyards, mines, and railroads across the North East.
Maureen said: “I introduced myself to him. He asked where I was from and I told him Hebburn but that I was there representing Jarrow and South Tyneside. Then I was pulled away so other people could talk to him.”
Christine Chandler, activities coordinator at Willowdene Care Home, said: “The museum in a box experience was so wonderful for the residents – many who can remember the switch to the decimal currency system in the early 70s.
“It was around that time that our resident, Maureen, met the famous MP James Callaghan, whose picture was contained in the box from The Royal Mint Museum. She told us the fascinating story of her meeting the future PM at a union meeting when she was younger.
“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.”
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.