The new design is part of a set of five new £2 coins which will appear in circulation in the UK early this year – three mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death; one commemorates the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London; while another celebrates the emergence of the ‘Pals Battalions’ of 1914 (image shown above, via the Royal Mint).
Lord Derby’s idea for organising a series of Pals Battalions was most fully embraced in Liverpool. When Lord Kitchener’s appeal for 100,000 men between the ages of 19 and 30 was aired in August 1914, Derby used the city’s newspapers to put out the call for volunteers.
According to Bruce Robinson, while General Henry Rawlinson had first suggested that men “would be more willing to join up if they could serve with people they already knew”, it was Derby who first tested the thinking.
As part of the ongoing First World War centenary celebrations, Uniform (which has studios in Liverpool and London), designed a new-look £2 coin for the Royal Mint, paying tribute to the Pals Battalions. Three ‘pals’ are depicted side by side, conceived in a Futurist style – the final design echoing the work of the British artist, CRW Nevinson.
“We wanted to communicate the power of community and the lengths people will go to defend it, instantly and with real impact,” says Uniform’s creative director, Tim Sharp. “It was a privilege to work on a project with such historical significance and commemorate the vision of Lord Derby and the Pals of Liverpool and beyond.”
In 1914, the intention was that each Pals Battalion would be a fighting force made up of friends and work colleagues from various commercial businesses. In serving alongside people they knew, the idea followed, volunteers could become a more effective unit.
In London, a Stockbrokers’ Battalion had already been formed in late August 1914, but Lord Derby was the first to refer to the men as groups of ‘Pals’. Subsequent battalions emerged in several northern towns and cities including Leeds, Grimsby, Accrington, Barnsley and Hull.