old english banknotes

Old English Banknotes

Matthew Boulton and James Watt Fifty Pound Note

Matthew Boulton and James Watt Fifty Pound Note

This new style £50 Note is signed by Chris Salmon who is Executive Director, Banking & Chief Cashier from April 2011

This style of Fifty Pound Note featuring Matthew Boulton and James Watt was issued on the 2 November 2011 and is withdrawn from circulation on 30th September 2022

Queen Elizabeth II (1926 – 2022) is the monarch pictured on this £50 note.

Matthew Boulton and James Watt Fifty Pound Note Rear

Matthew Boulton and James Watt Fifty Pound Note Rear

On the rear of the Boulton and Watt £50 note this wording is printed:

Matthew Boulton 1728 – 1809 ‘I sell here, Sir, what all the world desires to have – POWER’

and James Watt 1736 – 1819 ‘I can think of nothing else but this machine’


The POWER that the Matthew Boulton quote refers to is motive power. The sort of power that can do work, it can make machines move. This power was generated from a steam engine. These steam engines could be used to run anything from pumps to drain mines to lapping machines. These lapping machines are use to polish with a rotating disc.

this machine

The machine that James Watt is referring to in his quote on the £50 note is the Steam Engine. Heating water to produce steam causes the water volume to increase many times as it changes to a gas (steam). The steam can move a piston, the piston can move a machine. It is the conversion of the fuel (burning wood, coal, oil etc) to heat the water in the steam engine that converts an inanimate fuel to machine movement. This new invention needed improvement and increases in efficiency. It was these problems that James Watt was solving when he said ‘I can think of nothing else…’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *