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Campaign to get Walter Bagehot on bank note

By Western Gazette - South Somerset  |  Posted: May 09, 2013

The Langport-based Bagehot Memorial Fund’s steering committee is campaigning for the face of Walter Bagehot to be placed on a future Bank of England bank note

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A campaign has been launched in Langport to get the face of the town’s most famous son on to British bank notes.

Residents have set up a new online e-petition to try to get Walter Bagehot’s picture on a future Bank of England note.

The campaign comes after the Bank of England, which decides which famous historical figures appear on its notes, recently announced Winston Churchill would feature on the new £5 note.

Mr Bagehot was born in Bank House, Langport in 1826 – the premises of Stuckey’s Bank, which was run by his family and two others.

The essayist and businessman is most famously known for founding The Economist magazine, a weekly account of current affairs across the world.

The Langport-based Bagehot Memorial Fund was set up to make his life and legacy better known, both locally and more widely around the country.

Barry Winetrobe, chairman of the fund’s steering committee said: “Walter Bagehot is the perfect figure to appear on a British bank note.

“He was a banker himself and notes issued by his family’s bank, Stuckey’s, once had a circulation second only to the Bank of England.

“He was an influential writer on banking, financial and economic matters, not just in his own mid-Victorian times, but ever since.

“The continuing problems of the past six years have made his views, especially on the role of central banks during banking crises, even more relevant for policymakers, bankers and academics.

“He invented the Treasury Bill, which is still used today, and his untimely death in 1877 was mourned a few weeks later in the Chancellor’s Budget speech in the House of Commons.”

Mr Winetrobe said the Royal Mint used a quote from Mr Bagehot in 2009 on one of its London 2012 Olympics commemorative coins and there is even a space asteroid named after him.

One of his most famous books, The English Constitution, has been translated into several different languages and used by aspiring British heir apparents and politicians preparing to become head of state or hold high office.

The Columbia University Journalism School also recognises his significance with their Knight-Bagehot Fellowship, which is an economic course for journalists.

In 2011, Robert Peston, the BBC’s business editor, wrote that we were “in the dark ages in our understanding of how banks and financial markets work” before Bagehot’s work and teachings.

Mr Winetrobe said: “Appearing on a British bank note would be a fitting honour for Walter Bagehot, and we hope people will support this campaign by signing the e-petition and by writing to the Bank of England directly.”

The e-petition was created last week on the government’s e-petitions website.

Visit http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/49498.

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