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70 facts about money to celebrate 70 years on the throne

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Today marks the day that celebrates the Queen being the monarch of Britain for the last 70 years, She was crowned on June 2 1952. To celebrate this event, the Daily Mail has published 70 facts about money which puts her reign in perspective from a financial view. Worth a share:


The Queen was the first monarch to appear on an English bank note in 1960 — her portrait featured on the new £1 note .

There are 27 billion coins in circulation that feature the Queen's portrait.

Britain switched from shillings to 100 pennies in the pound in 1971.

More than 3.4 billion new coins were minted for 'Decimal Day' on February 15 that year.

The sixpence remained in circulation until 1980.

The last pre-decimal coin to be pulled was the florin, which was used alongside the 10p until 1993.

The first cash machine was launched in London in 1967. By 2017, there were 70,180 in the UK.

But thousands have disappeared and there are now 52,282 ATMs.

Britain had more than 20,000 bank branches in 1988. Last year there were 8,810.

There were 796 building societies in 1952, with 4.7 million members.

Today, there are 43 and nearly 26 million people are members.

Cheques & cards

Cheque usage peaked in 1990, when four billion were written.

Last year, just 185 million were used and High Street providers no longer routinely offer chequebooks.

Barclays issued the UK's first credit card in 1966. Now 69 per cent of adults have one.

Debit cards were launched in 1987, with 98 per cent of the population using them today.

Nationwide Building Society introduced the first-ever internet banking service in 1997. By 2020, 72 per cent of adults banked online.

Chip-and-PIN payments were introduced in 2003 to cut fraud.

Contactless cards were first issued in September 2007 with a £10 limit. Today's limit is £100.


Rationing was still in place in 1952, ending in July 1954.

The average weekly food bill in 1952 was 20 shillings and 8 pence per person. In 2020, it was £63.90.

When the Queen became monarch only 8 per cent of people owned a fridge — compared with 98 per cent today.

In the 1950s, 6 per cent of all spending went on tobacco. Only 1 per cent does now.

Alcohol spending has remained similar — with 3 per cent of budgets spent on it in 1952, and 2 per cent today.

A pint of beer cost 9p in 1952, rising to £4.08 on average now.

In 1952, a pint of milk cost 4p. Today it's 69p.

Seventy years ago, 10 per cent of a household's income went on clothes. Now it is 4 per cent.

In 1952, there was a radio licence, which cost £1, and a monochrome (TV) licence, which cost £2. Now, TV licences cost £159 a year.

It cost three halfpence to send a letter 70 years ago. Now a first-class stamp is 95p.

The Daily Mail cost three halfpence in 1952, increasing to 80p today.


Inflation has averaged 4.6 per cent in the past 70 years.

When the Queen took to the throne, inflation was 9.2  per cent.

At 9 per cent, it is currently its highest in 40 years.

One pound in 1952 had the buying power of £35 today.

Inflation soared to double digits for eight years in the 1970s, peaking at 24.2 pc in 1975.

There was a 30-year period of low inflation from the late 1980s, dipping to 0 per cent. in 2015.

Interest rates

The Bank of England's interest rate jumped from 2.5 per cent to 4 per cent just after the Queen began her reign.

Interest rates hit 17 per cent in the 1970s and fell to a record low of 0.1 per cent during the pandemic.

There are 36 investment trusts that have been around since before the Queen acceded to the throne, including Scottish Mortgage (launched 1909), says investment platform AJ Bell.


In 1952, the average property cost £1,891 — £56,000 in today's money.

Now the average home is £260,771 — 130 times higher than in 1952.

A house was then worth four times the average salary — now it's more than eight times annual wages.

Around four million people owned their home then. Now, more than 15 million do.

In 1952, 96 per cent of a household's power came from coal. By 2020 it was just 3 per cent.

Women's finance

Working women were still being refused mortgages in their own right until the 1970s.

Until 1990, married women were routinely taxed under their husband's tax code.

In the 1980s, a married woman's income had to be declared on her husband's tax return.

State pension

In 1952, the basic rate state pension was £1.63 a week for a single person.

Married couples received £2.70 a week, or £140.40 a year.

The basic state pension is £141.85 a week for a single person and £226.85 for a married couple.

The state pension was 31 per cent of average earnings when the Queen took to the throne. It is now 23.

In the 1950s, the state pension age was 65 for men and 60 for women. Today, it is 66 for both.

There were around 6.8 million pensioners then — there are some 12.1 million now.

In 1952, the average person never made it to state pension age. Today, the average life expectancy for people nearing state pension age is 68 for men and 74 for women.


At the start of the Queen's reign, the life expectancy for a baby boy was 66.4 years and 71.5 for a girl — today it is 79 and 82.9 respectively.

In October 1952, the family allowance rose to eight shillings to improve childhood nutrition.

Prescription charges of one shilling were introduced in 1952. Today, it is £9.35 per item.


In 1952, the average male working full time earned £452 a year. This is £9,696 in today's money.

The average female worker earned £240 a year in 1952 — £5,149 in today's money.

In 2022, the average annual salary is £31,772.

In 1952, 8.7 million people — 40 per cent of full-time employees — worked in manufacturing and six million in the public sector.

The most common occupation now is care worker.


In 1952, home insurance described fire, burglary and storms as 'thunderbolt', 'larceny' and 'tempest'.

Damage to property by horses and cattle was grouped with damage by motor vehicles.

A home contents checklist included possessions such as pianos and servants' goods.

Travel insurance policies also charged an excess for some unusual items including typewriters.

Televisions and wireless radios were considered luxuries in 1952, commanding their own policies.

Life events

From the 1950s cremation became more popular as a cheaper alternative to burial. In 1952, 19.8 per cent of deaths resulted in cremation. In 2020, this was 80 per cent.

People spend an average of £32,000 on weddings today. In the 1950s they spent £70.

The driving test cost 50p in 1952. Today, it is £62 for a practical test, plus £23 for a theory exam.

Chris Skinner Author Avatar

Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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