Comments by Paul Martin (1954-1954) - We were paid in Pound Sterling during my time at North Luffenham in 1954. A Pound was worth $2.74 and I was paid about 12 pound a week. We were paid on the 15th and 30th of the month and believe me that was great as the average English wage back then was about 6 Pounds a week that is what the civilian workers on the station were paid.
The currency at that time was somewhat mixed. The largest note being a 5 Pound note which had printing on only one side. The trouble with these notes was trying to spend them. A lot of people working in stores and bars etc. had never seen one. Generally merchants had you sign your name on the back of it after they held it up to the light and examined every which way. We were the highest paid forces at that time. As you may recall, we didn't have conscription in Canada. The Americans were second highest paid and we sure rubbed it into them which they didn't care for. You know what the Yanks were like. One day I was sitting with my buddy in a bar in Nottingham and this Yank sitting at another table lit a cigar with a 1 Pound note. You could see the poor English blokes just stare with their mouths open. This boisterous Yank was trying to impress the girls at the table [typical].
As you know, I was one of the last to leave North Luffenham. I went to the Headquarters building one afternoon and found a group playing poker in a corner of this room. A friend of mine called me over and said "look at this Paul". There were fellows going back to Canada and some others on their way to the continent. On that table there was Canadian money, Travellers cheques, Sterling, Script and French Francs. The players in the game were not only airmen but officers as well. I shall never forget that.
When I departed Dorval for England I had all my money converted to Sterling like they told us to do. I don't remember how much I had as I was as "green as grass" at that time. I had kept a few bucks in travellers cheques. Well when our aircraft arrived in Prestwick, Scotland - a North Star full of passengers converged on the coffee shop and most ordered coffee and toast. I think it came to about a shilling or less and here we just looked at the girl and handed her a pound note and said "Please be honest". If she had said that will be 2 Pounds we would not have known the difference. She could have retired after a few kites came in from Canada. It took 20 Shillings to make a Pound. A dollar was worth 7 Shillings and 6 Pence.
Just after I got over there I was in the town of Stamford and I went into this cafe and I asked for a coffee and the girl said to me that will be a 'thrupenny bit'. I held out some change and she took 3 Pence out of my hand. It looked like the nickel of today only a brassy colour. It took me about three months over there to get on to the money. Everytime you bought something, right away in your head you are converting it to Canadian money. Somewhat similar to when Canada went Metric. The older people are always converting to Imperial. The kids of today don't have that problem but my son will say "Dad, how long would 3 foot six be?"
The following detail more or less identifies the English monetary system as I recall it to be.
1 guinea = 1 pound and one shilling
1 pound = 20 shillings
1 florin = 2 shillings
1 shilling = 12 pence
Comments by Anne M Rector
There was another coin - seldom used but still officially in useage, called a "farthing" which was 1/4d (a quarter of a penny) and this was about the size of a dime.
The "brass" threepenny pieces were made during the war to replace the silver threepenny piece, which is similar to a dime but slightly smaller - three pence being half of six pence.
We are fortunate to have some examples of English banknotes and coins which were in use during the period of 1951-1954.
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Updated: February 2, 2005