Close

‘The Chancellor told me of the possible site at Llantrisant and as soon as I heard of it I insisted on visiting it. Once I saw Llantrisant I told him this was the place for us.’

Jack James, Deputy Master of the Royal Mint, 8 September 1967

Why is the Royal Mint in Wales?

Cramped, inefficiently laid out and with old equipment, by the 1960s the Royal Mint at Tower Hill in London was no longer an ideal location. Rebuilding had been in prospect for some time but it was the announcement in 1966 that Britain would adopt a new decimal currency, with its associated need for hundreds of millions of new coins, that brought matters to a head. Expansion was not really possible at Tower Hill and it was decided to find a new location outside London.

By January 1967 more than 20 sites had been considered, to be reduced to a short list of seven. On this short list was Llantrisant in South Wales, just a few miles from Cardiff. It was close enough to London to tempt existing staff to relocate, with plenty of space and a readily available workforce. In addition, it had the support of James Callaghan, who as Chancellor of the Exchequer was Master of the Mint and also an MP for Cardiff. He freely admitted that he did not care in which valley the Mint was located so long as it was a Welsh valley. Llantrisant was announced as the new site for the Royal Mint in April 1967. Clearance of the site began soon after and by August construction was under way. The Deputy Master, Jack James, promised that ‘the new buildings rising from the Welsh countryside will for the first time for decades provide adequate space and permit the introduction of modern production plant and methods’.

When did the Royal Mint move to Wales?

With decimalisation day fixed for 15 February 1971, the new Mint had to be operational as swiftly as possible. The foundation stone was laid by James Callaghan in February 1968 and work progressed quickly enough for the Mint to be opened by the Queen in December of that year. Production of decimal 1/2p, 1p and 2p pieces began at once, with Llantrisant producing over 1400 million coins in its first year of operation. To begin with, Llantrisant was dependent on the supply of blanks from Tower Hill and elsewhere, but in July 1971 Government approval was given for an additional building programme to make the new Mint completely self-sufficient. This encompassed a melting, rolling and blanking unit as well as the creation of laboratories, stores, maintenance workshops and an administration block. The first strip of metal was cast at Llantrisant in November 1974, and Phase II was completed by the summer of 1975. Production in London was gradually wound down. This photograph shows the last coin being struck at Tower Hill in November 1975 but it was not until the end of 1980 that the old site was finally vacated.

Construction of the new Royal Mint

In August 1967 work commenced on two large concrete-clad buildings set in the rolling green Welsh countryside a mile or so from the centre of Llantrisant. Here metal blanks would be annealed, pickled and cleaned before being struck into coins and packed ready for despatch.

 

Watch Now

Making of a Town

As well as adding to the local sense of history and tradition, the transfer of the Royal Mint provided work for those living in the Llantrisant area, heralding the start of a wider regeneration for the town.

 

Llantrisant 1968

Newspapers at the time reported that the Royal Mint would provide up to 1,000 jobs. James Callaghan said that between 750 to 1,000 men would be employed by the Mint. Overall, it was estimated that in 1968 that the move of the Royal Mint to Wales could provide 10,000 jobs in South Wales alone.

Then & Now

Drag the slider to see development around the Mint in 1947 and today.

 

Llantrisant map 2018
Llantrisant map 1947

Find out more

People

People

Learn about people who were crucial to the Mint during its early years in Llantrisant.

Read more

Events

Events

Learn about the events and activities that marked the development of the Mint in South Wales.

Read more

Production

Production

Learn about the production and distribution of the new decimal coins.

Read more

back to top