You Will Always Be Able To Spend A Penny at Didcot Railway Centre

Photo by Frank Dumbleton

Are we about to lose our 1p and 2p copper coins? Maybe says the Bank of England. Definitely not says Downing Street.

Whatever happens after the politicians have finished pontificating, we can assure you that the beloved ‘copper’, the pre-decimal penny, one twelfth of a shilling until 1971, will always be in circulation at Didcot Railway Centre. The platform ticket machine in the Museum and Archive will deliver on deposit of 1d, completely mechanically and without electronic intervention, a souvenir of the days when you needed a small piece of pasteboard to go on the platform to say farewell to a dear relative, or do a bit of trainspotting.

The photograph shows brothers Henry, holding a 1965 penny, and Oliver with the ticket received in exchange for it. The old pennies are readily available from the staff in the Museum, in exchange for a 20p piece, a rather less significant coin than the real penny, you will agree.

The penny platform ticket was valid for one hour, and prohibited the ticketholder from entering trains. To ensure people didn’t overstay their welcome the ticket has numerals from 1 to 12 printed around the edge, so that the ticket collector could clip the time that the person went onto the platform. Thus, if the person came back several hours later there might be a suspicion that he, or she, had travelled somewhere!

(Inspired from recent press speculation about demise of 1p and 2p coins.)