Do you remember when the UK changed over to decimal currency? Sussex readers reminisce about 'D-day'

This week saw the 50th anniversary of decimalisation in the UK - a move that shook-up our centuries old coinage system.

Thursday, 18th February 2021, 1:04 pm

Evolving from pounds, shillings and pence, introducing the new system was a mammoth feat of public relations and communication leading up to the official change over day on February 15, 1971. You can read more about the introduction of decimalisation here.It’s a time fondly remembered by many so we asked our readers whether they remembered the change.

Chris Casburn wrote on the Chichester Observer Facebook page: "I remember the ads. A litre of water’s a pint and 3/4. And 2.2 pounds of jam weighs about a kilogram."

While Chris Green wrote: "What I can't believe is how we managed with that nonsense beforehand! Dividing everything into 12th's and 16oz to the lb etc!"

Lord Fiske, Chairman of the Decimal Currency Board, 'decimal shopping' at Woolworths in the Strand on the first day of national decimalisation. Photo by Dennis Oulds/Central Press/Getty Images

A number of our readers worked in shops and banks at the time of 'D-day' as it was commonly referred to.

Pauline Chaloner wrote on the Littlehampton Gazette Facebook page: "I remember that day as I was working in National Westminster Bank Arundel, we called it D-day and although it was a busy time I can recall finding it exciting."

Eastbourne's Maggie Armstrong said: "I was working in Woolworths in Seaside. I felt so sorry for the older ladies, they were so confused [and I] often had to explain and tell them what it would have been in old money so they could compare."

While Linda Knight wrote: "I was working in the record department of WH Smith. We had both prices on both before and after for some time."

Checkout workers at a Fine Fare supermarket studying decimal conversion charts during a training course. Photo by George Hales/Getty Images

Zena Brooker from Hastings added: "I worked for the Maidstone and District Bus Company and I had an old manual Burroughs adding machine, which I had to try to carry on using, even after the change over. It wasn’t easy!

It was a busy time for Sue Long who was 16 at the time and working for Barclays Bank. "We stayed up all night to convert customer's bank statements into the new decimal format ready for opening the doors at 9am next day," she wrote.

Yvonne Rose was another person who worked in a bank at the time. "I remember we had assistants on hand in the banking to help if customers needed it," she wrote on the Eastbourne Herald page. "I also remember the man who owned/ran the corner newsagents, he had a big conversion table hanging up. He would also tell you how much you owed in new money but count the change as if it was old money. I can remember it as if it was yesterday."

Ruth Thomas from Hastings worked at The Department of Health and Social Security (DHSS) in London Road and remembers it 'vividly'. "Everyone's benefits were worked out manually, with pen and paper, so we had to calculate the change over from old money to new decimal currency by hand," she said. "It took many months in the run up to D-day - no computers and printers then."

December 29, 1971 Lord Fishe holding a pamphlet introducing the decimal currency. Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images

As is now with new technology, many of our readers remember helping their parents work out the new system.

Lesley Connelly wrote on the Hastings Observer Facebook page: "I was living with my parents in a pub and I remember my mum having to go for training as she did the books. It took her a lot longer to grasp it than me bless her."

Similarly Jean Craske wrote: "I remember everything went up in price over night, as the prices were rounded up. I walked around Woolworths with my mum, having to convert all the prices back for her so she knew how much she was spending."

While Deborah Sanders Fox added: "I can remember trying to help my mum get her head around it like the kids do today with the tech!"

For some, old habits die hard and Jackie Mulholland admitted: "I still look at some thing marked 50p now and think of the old 10shilling note and what I was able to buy with it then."

For Janine Bagci it marks a special day. "I was born the day this happened and all baby's born were given a wallet with each of the new coins in. My mum still has it with 1971 on each one."

Denise Linstead was a child when the change over to decimalisation took place. "I remember it well as went through primary school with pre decimalisation and this came in my first year at secondary school. I also remember shopping with my mum and everything went up in price!"

Deric Antangelo said: "I remember playing decimal dominos and getting plastic money to get used to it."

Diane Muriel Hellyer wrote on the West Sussex County Times Facebook page: "I well remember 'Decimal Day' and going out to the shops in my lunch break, to see what it would be like. Prices increased because there was no exact equivalent and it was easy to add a penny or two!"

The increase in prices was something a number of our readers referred to, with Chris Hailebaxter commenting on the Worthing Herald Facebook page: "I remember people saying it was the government’s way of increasing the prices of everything."