Inside The Royal Mint – Part one – through the gates

As we go about our daily business here at The Royal Mint, we sometimes take for granted the historic and even quirky practices and sights we experience every day. 

In this short series we share some of them with you, to give you a flavour of our lives at the world’s largest export mint and the UK’s oldest manufacturing company. So, first of all, let’s make our way in…

Entering The Royal Mint

Ministry of Defence (MoD) Police and security officers at the staff entrance inspect our pass-card before the door is activated, no matter how well they know us – and that means everyone, even the Chief Executive. The pass-card is issued following strict security-checks and any loss of it must be reported to a police station immediately. Once in, we pass through secure turnstiles and an airport-style x-ray machine. We are also subject to random searches by the Police on departure, and there are search rooms nearby, just in case!

Leave it at the door!

Although thousands of coins leave here every day, no-one may bring coins into The Royal Mint. Because of this, daily workplace transactions, such as office and charity collections or buying a canteen lunch, are undertaken without the use of coins. This entails exchanging bank-notes or coins for tokens with a monetary value at Reception, or loading value onto a card using bank-notes or tokens.

Coins and Royal Mint cash vouchers
Inside the coin drawer at The Royal Mint reception – cash tokens are exchanged for coins.

If staff inadvertently bring coins onto site, they become involved in procedures designed to preserve the integrity and security of the coins that we make, so we can ensure that only newly-minted coins leave site. They must either immediately obtain a key for a Reception locker and leave their coins there or, if discovered later (maybe in a handbag), declare them to their Manager. They are put in an envelope, the Manager checks the amount and signs across the sealed envelope. The envelope is taken to and opened by the Police who verify that they are not newly-minted coins. The coins must then be taken off-site e.g. to the employee’s car, or placed in a Reception locker. Undeclared coins found in a Police search on departure results in a report to management, who treat it very seriously.

Visitors come in through a separate entrance and are escorted on site at all times by a member of staff. They are advised that coins, cameras, laptops and smoking items must be left in lockers at Reception. This is rigorously applied, even when the Bank of England visited us recently. Of course, the ‘No Smoking’ rule applies to everyone and possession of such items on site would result in disciplinary action for staff.

Something Interesting For Visitors

An impressive exhibition in the Visitors Reception holds current and historic coins, medals and other artefacts.

Part of the exhibition at reception at The Royal Mint in Llantrisant
Part of the exhibition at reception at The Royal Mint in Llantrisant

A ‘Roll of Honour’ in a glass case shows the names of four Royal Mint employees who sadly lost their lives when a bomb hit the Royal Mint building at Tower Hill in London on 13 June 1917. One of them is listed as a ‘Boy Clerk’. Poignantly, it also records the names of staff members who died in active service during the First World War, some of whom were awarded medals that were made at The Royal Mint by their own colleagues.

The Royal Mint Roll of Honour
The Royal Mint Roll of Honour lists those who lost their lives in active service during the First World War

And so we proceed inside….

In the next article we will talk about some of the historic items brought from our previous homes at the Tower of London and Tower Hill in London and now placed around our ‘new’ home here in Llantrisant in the beautiful Welsh countryside.

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  • CS

    Very cool!

  • Commander

    Too cool for me

  • David McMannus

    Wonderfully written. I live in the United States and will probably never get a chance to see the inside of the Royal Mint. This is the next best thing. Bravo!

    • Cheers David – great to hear from an American friend! Glad you liked the 1st chapter, the 2nd is due soon – hope you enjoy that too, please let me know. Regards to visiting us, who knows? One day? :)

  • johntod

    I was actually disappointed in this first segment of the blog.

    She went on and on about how workers can’t bring in coins to work and what happens if they do, and what happens if they do and they notice later on that they have them, etc.etc.

    I’m sorry but I couldn’t care less about that.

    And the importance of not loosing their ID badge, and what to do if one finds it is missing, I get all of that, please move on!

    I would like to see how the coins are made, I would like to learn if their engravers do work similar the ones in the US mint. I would like to learn if their coins are made the same way as the US mint ect. How many tons of weight pound each coin that is used for commerce, compared to coins made for collectors. How many commerce coins are made per hour, minute, second or day, etc. Then compare that to collector grade coins, how many times are they struck by the presses, how big are the presses, how many collector coins are made per day.

    I would like to know were the blanks are made and how, what is the composition of your coins? There is lots of things to talk about besides how the workers pay for their mid day meal without the benefit of coins, that isn’t magic! We all know about debit cards already!

    There is so much fascinating information that one could talk about at a mint, but to spend the entire time discussing how employees get along at work without using coins seems rather drab and uneventful.

    I apologize if I sound unappreciative, because that isn’t my goal. I just feel that there is so much information that would be interesting to every one interested in coins, but this information that you have blogged about just isn’t interesting at all.

    • Hi John

      Thanks for your comments, I do get where you’re coming from, I was just building the suspense! This series is intended to give a ‘sneak peek’ at life here, as referred to in the opening paragraph. We thought readers might be intrigued by some of the detail, sorry you weren’t! A lot of what you would like to know is already on our website, check out various articles in the ‘Discover’ section, this one in particular covers many of your queries: http://www.royalmint.com/discover/uk-coins/starting-with-the-finish-proof-coins

      I do hope you’ll give me a second chance and read the next chapter, it’s about some of the historic items we have on site, you might like it!

      • John Tod

        Thank you, and please accept my apology for being so strong in my unhappiness. I think I was having a bad morning when I wrote that, I should have toned down allot with my editing but failed to edit at all.

        I do so much love coins, history of them, and everything that there is to learn about them, I love holding them, buying them, selling them, spending them, but most of all collecting them, from all over the world, and that is very difficult to do, now that I am disabled, my income is disabled as well.

        I think I was taking that out on the article, so again please accept my most humble apology, and know that i am waiting anxiously for your next installment.
        John

        • Hi again John
          Thanks so much for your kind response, much appreciated – but the pressure is really on me now to turn out a gripping next chapter! Have a great day :)

          • John Tod

            I want you to know that because of what I have been seeing on your site that I have already placed an order for four coins that I thought I could afford until the price came back to me at double what the total was do to the exchange rate.
            I think the Royal mint is charging me two for one and that is a bit much. I hope the coins they send to me are exceptionally beautiful. Because if they aren’t they will have to be returned.

            I was totally taken back when the bill hit my bank account, for double of what I thought I was paying, you can understand the shock.

            I know if you ordered coins from the US Mint you would pay half the amount that you had figured.
            Right?

            Wait and see, I guess, what else can I do, the worst part of the entire deal is that the coins are back ordered or something. I am not happy at all!
            Is there anything you can do to help me out here?
            John

          • jamesroyalmint

            Hi John, having checked your order it seems that you have been billed for coins at the current exchange rate for pounds sterling to dollars. We haven’t added any additional costs from what I can see.

            We don’t compete on price directly with other Mints, but we do take your point and we understand.

            I hope you will be very happy with the coins you receive, I know we are happy with the design and quality of every coin that leaves The Royal Mint.

            If you want to ask questions about your order, you can always contact our Customer Services team who will be very happy to help!

            http://www.royalmint.com/help/contact-us

  • Tony mc Grory

    Nice one Joanne – a few years ago I received an invite to visit the Royal Mint but was too ill to go, so it is nice to get the virtual guided tour.
    BR Tony Mc Grory – customer number 5564640

    • Hi Tony
      What a shame you missed your visit here! Hope you are in better health now and have another chance one day. Really pleased that this blog is making up for it a bit, though – and that you enjoy the next chapter too. I’m working on it at this very minute! Cheers.

  • ann

    I found it interesting and i look forward to reading more as to how things work in the royal mint and how do they get this job in the first place.its great

    • Thanks Ann! Glad you liked it, and you’re right, this is a great place to work. We all take enormous pride in what we do here, and are happy to say so. We’re conscious every day of our history and strive to uphold it. Recruitment is through normal procedures, check the website! Chapter 2 is nearly ready….