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Throughout 1968 the new Mint at Llantrisant began to take shape.

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By December of that year the site was ready for its grand opening by the Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles, just ten months after James Callaghan had laid the foundation stone.

 

Turning the first sod

On 7 August 1967 the Deputy Master, Jack James, had the honour of turning the first sod. Such a task filled him with dread, not because of the enormity of the move but because he was terrified at having to operate the machinery. ‘I had the frightening pleasure’, he said, ‘of turning the first sod, in a monster weighing 37 tons.’ The monster in question was a caterpillar scraper, with which he gouged out a section of earth to begin the construction of the Decimal Branch.

He was presented with a miniature spade by the chairman of R.M. Douglas Construction Company Ltd, the main contractors for the work. In reply he told them that ‘it is now up to you to do the work safely, quickly and cheaply’.

Watch the construction the new Royal mint

footage supplied by British Pathe

Laying the foundation stone

In February 1968 the foundation stone of the Royal Mint at Llantrisant was laid by James Callaghan, formerly Chancellor of the Exchequer and now Home Secretary. Continuing the long tradition of placing coins under foundation stones, two new decimal 2p pieces were placed beneath it, chosen no doubt because they show the badge of the Prince of Wales.

At a dinner after the event, James Callaghan thanked the local authorities for their co-operation in providing houses and making welcome those Mint workers who had already come to Wales from London. The mood was celebratory, and in response to a toast by Cledwyn Hughes, the Secretary of State for Wales, it was suggested that perhaps the Freemen of Llantrisant might now be persuaded to give part of the common land as a site for the Houses of Parliament.

Watch the construction the new Royal mint

footage supplied by British Pathe

Opening the Royal Mint at Llantrisant

The site at Llantrisant was formally opened on 17 December by Her Majesty the Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales. They received a warm reception, with hundreds of local people turning up for the occasion, along with children from nearby schools who had been given the afternoon off to come and see the royal visitors. One particularly lucky girl, Rosamund Caddick, presented the Queen with an official bouquet of flowers, which rather unusually contained daffodils, silk leeks, mint and freshly struck coins.

The royal visitors were welcomed by the Lord Lieutenant of the County of Glamorgan, Roy Jenkins, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Jack James, the Deputy Master, with the Llantrisant Male Choir performing the National Anthem. After unveiling a plaque to mark the opening, the royal party were given a tour of the site. They spoke to many of the workers and each minted six new decimal coins, the Queen striking 1p pieces, the Duke of Edinburgh 1/2p pieces and the Prince of Wales 2p pieces.

 

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People

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

Events

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

Production

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