New £20 Scottish bank note features first ever woman other than the Queen

The new 20 Scottish bank note features the portrait of Glasgow entrepreneur, Kate Cranston
The new 20 Scottish bank note features the portrait of Glasgow entrepreneur, Kate Cranston
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A new £20 Scottish bank note has been unveiled, featuring the portrait of Glasgow entrepreneur, Kate Cranston.

The polymer note is the first £20 Scottish bank note to feature a woman, other than the Queen, on the front.

The note was unveiled by the Royal Bank of Scotland in front of Cranstons legendary tearoom in Glasgow, Mackintosh at the Willow

The note was unveiled by the Royal Bank of Scotland in front of Cranstons legendary tearoom in Glasgow, Mackintosh at the Willow

A local affair

The new note was unveiled by the Royal Bank of Scotland in front of Cranston’s legendary tearoom in Glasgow, Mackintosh at the Willow, which was designed by architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Cranston, who died aged 85 in 1934, was a leading figure in the development of the tearooms and is famed for her series of venues across Glasgow.

The note was designed in partnership with Scottish arts organisations and designers, including Graven Images, Nile, Stucco, Timorous Beasties, O-Street and the Glasgow School of Art. It also features illustrations of red squirrels on its reverse side, as well as an image of the blueberry fruit.

Extracts from 16th century Scottish poet Mark Alexander Boyd’s work, Cupid and Venus, also feature.

Celebrating an important Scottish figure

The £20 note is the third in a series of ‘Fabric of Nature’ themed notes and the decision to feature Kate Cranston was taken by the Royal Bank of Scotland Scottish Board.

Speaking at the launch, Malcolm Buchanan, chair of the Scotland Board at the Royal Bank of Scotland, said: “Kate Cranston’s legacy touches so many aspects of Scottish life that we, as a nation, are justifiably proud; entrepreneurialism, art, philanthropy and dedication.

“Choosing the design of the £20 note was an important decision for it is Royal Bank of Scotland’s biggest circulating note, with £736 million currently in circulation.

“As such, it is fitting that such a figure as Kate Cranston will be celebrated on the face of our most popular note.”

Celia Sinclair, chair of the Willow Tea Room Trust, added at the launch: “We are delighted that the image of Kate Cranston is on the Royal Bank of Scotland £20.

“She was a very interesting and intelligent woman, an excellent businesswoman who changed attitudes.

“The Salon de Luxe, the centrepiece of Mackintosh at the Willow, was a symbol of social change in Glasgow where women began to socialise outside the home.

“She was serious about training – she ran all of her own courses and all her staff had to toe the line. She grew her own flowers for the tearooms, fresh foods were supplied by her own dairy.

“I think there were many women like Kate Cranston around at that time, but history simply doesn’t remember them, but I am glad to say we are with this very fitting tribute.”

When will it enter circulation?

The polymer note will enter circulation in 2020 and will have a range of new security features, making it difficult to counterfeit but easy to authenticate.

It follows the £5 polymer note, which was launched in 2016 and features poet Nan Shepherd, and the £10 polymer which was launched in 2017, and includes the portrait of scientist Mary Somerville.