When there were 240 pennies in a pound and a pint of beer cost 15p

  • Watch an ITV News report on decimalisation by Matt Price

It's 50 years since Britain adopted decimal currency to replace shillings and make a pound worth 100 new pence.

Until 1971, there had been 12 old pennies in a shilling and 20 shillings or 240 pennies made one pound. A ten-bob note became 50 pence and the old sixpence or tanner, worth 2½p, was about to become history along with the florin, farthing and half crown. On 15 February 1971, the UK went decimal with the new currency based on multiples of ten like most of the rest of the world.

For many years old coins and new were used side by side - the old florin or two shilling coin was the same size and value as the new 10 pence coin.

Sarah Coles, a personal finance analyst at financial services provider Hargreaves Lansdown, says life has changed a lot since then as price rises have averaged 5.6% a year since 1971 and one pound back then had the buying of £14.24 in today's money.

In 1971 bread cost 9p, a pint of beer was 15p, a bottle of milk cost 5p and the average house price was £6,632 Credit: PA Images

The 5p and 10p had already entered circulation in 1968. They were the same size and value as shillings and florins, so ran alongside them as "decimal twins".

The 50p piece was introduced in 1969 and the 1p, 2p and half-penny coins were introduced in 1971.

While the old 12-sided 'thruppenny bit' or threepenny (3d) coin ceased to be legal tender in 1971, it was still within the law to use the old sixpence coin (6d) until 1980.

John Hastings, Deputy Master and Controller of the Royal Mint with the new decimal coins in 1968 and designer Christopher Ironside (right) Credit: PA Images

More facts and figures from Sarah Coles at Hargreaves Lansdown:

  • If someone had saved £1,000 in the average savings account between then and now, they would have £12,198 - which, after the eroding impact of inflation is taken into account, would be worth just £781.

  • If someone had invested £1,000 in a UK tracker fund in 1971, it would be worth £252,204 typically now. After inflation that is £16,156 - so in real terms someone's money would be worth 16 times more than they had originally invested.

  • If someone had invested their money in Unilever instead, their £1,000 would be worth around £920,302, which, after inflation, is an increase of £58,953. So in real terms this would be worth nearly 60 times as much as was originally invested.

  • In 1971, the average house cost £5,632. If prices had increased in line with inflation, the average house would cost £82,920 today - rather than the actual cost of around £250,000.

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