Alice Beagley, Museum Officer
World War Two changed life for everyone working at the Bank of England.
Banknote printing moved out of London to Overton in Hampshire. And gold reserves were shipped to Canada in the undercover ‘Operation Fish’.
It was a difficult time for everyone, from the printing staff who made our banknotes, to the porters who kept our building safe.
How did they respond to this upheaval? They raised enough money to buy a Spitfire!
Spitfires were single-seat aircrafts used by the Royal Air Force (RAF). This intrigued me so I’ve dug into our records to find out more.
In May 1940, the RAF launched its aircraft presentation scheme. It asked the public for donations to build fighter planes. These were expensive to make and low in supply.
Funds came from variety of patrons from the miners of Durham to an Indian Maharajah. But they were mainly raised by individual companies or towns.
In July 1940, the Bank of England’s Deputy Secretary W H Nevill suggested its staff should contribute towards the scheme.
They rose to the challenge. Between August 1940 and February 1941 they raised the £5,000 needed to buy a Spitfire. That sum is worth around £258,000 today.
Below are photos of the fundraising drawing boards, which tracked the contributions. And the cheque for £5,000.