Designing the UK’s local currencies

CR investigates the growing collection of regional currencies across the UK, and how launching alternative bank notes can help with everything from supporting communities to abolishing local debt

Money might be an increasingly digital concept, but local currencies across the UK are banking on our love of print. Alternative notes have sprung up in Brixton, Bristol and the Lake District, in an attempt to support businesses and keep money in the area. They’re often a home for local creativity as well as commerce, spotlighting heroes from the area as well as giving a space for illustrators and artists to create work.

The Brixton Pound and the Bristol Pound are well established examples, launched in 2009 and 2012 respectively, and both created to benefit the immediate community. The Brixton Pound is a recognised home for creativity, and has been through several editions over the years including versions featuring David Bowie, and a fifth anniversary note by Jeremy Deller and Fraser Muggeridge Studio.

The Bristol Pound – which claims to be the UK’s largest local currency – is available both digitally and as paper money which features local creative talent. Illustrations on the most recent edition of the notes were created in response to four themes – art and culture, rebellion and protest movements, wildlife and nature, and maritime heritage – and chosen through a city-wide competition and public vote.