OF all the curious things we’ve ever been sent, this decimalisation duster cleans up.

“It’s still in use in our house,” says John Wearmouth, of Darlington.

It cannot have been much used for vigorous dusting as it shows only moderate signs of wear, despite being 50 years old.

John sent it in following the article in Memories 512 about the 50th anniversary of Decimalisation Day on February 15, 1971.

“Your story about the change to decimal money brought back many memories,” says Tony Crook, “as I worked for the National Cash Register Company in High Northgate, Darlington, for 33 years and my first manager was Robbie Robinson.”

Mr Robinson, of Sadberge, became the Mr Decimalisation of the area, lecturing, teaching and talking about the change from 1968.

“There were five of us in the little workshop behind the showroom. For more than two years prior to D Day, we would collect a small number of tills from shops during the day, leaving them just a lone machine, and we would work after hours to convert them into a condition where they could finished off quickly after D Day. It was good money while it lasted.

“My first company car was a little Hillman Imp which spent most of its time loaded with cash tills. With its engine at the back, it was not the best vehicle for lifting machines in and out of, but I did 104,000 miles in it - a great little car, when it worked.”

BRENDA FLYNN remembers that her late husband, George, the great Darlington historian, was a training officer with British Rail in Newcastle and devised a decimalisation training course for the area's staff.

“He also responded to an ad in The Northern Echo by Darlington's Chamber of Commerce for someone to train the town's smaller shopkeepers and he ran evening classes for them. Our house was full of plastic replica coins some of which our youngest son, then four-years-old, commandeered for his bus conductor games.”

PETE WINSTANLEY in Durham says: “I remember as a child that if my dad was asked how much something cost, and he either didn't know or didn't want to say, he would reply: ‘Eleven and eleven-three.’

"I always thought this was just a bit of nonsense, but I learned much later that it actually means eleven shillings and eleven pence three farthings.”

Pete was one of several people to point out that the sixpence didn’t disappear on D Day but it became worth 2½p in the new currency. It lasted as legal tender until June 30, 1980.

“Any idea why it was called a "tanner"?” he asks.

Two theories: in Cockney rhyming slang, “tanner and skin” meant “thin”, and it was a thin coin, or, from 1739 until 1760, John Sigismund Tanner was the chief engraver at the Royal Mint. This was a time when there was a “my coins are better than your coins” battle between the rulers of Europe, and Tanner managed to cram George II his wife and their seven children onto one medal which showed the whole continent how fertile the British king was.

Britain had not produced sixpences for some time but Tanner reintroduced them with an old design on them. This, says the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, “led to the sixpence being known in common parlance as a ‘tanner’ and Tanner's name therefore lived on until the sixpence was demonetized soon after decimal coinage was introduced”.

JOHN HESLOP in Durham also has decimalisation memories as in December 1970, his first job out of college was as a computer programmer at fake fur coat maker Astraka in Shildon, converting the software to the new currency.

“All existing Sterling amounts were converted to five decimal places of new pence, which seemed like overkill but was necessary when it came to costing orders for dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of garments,” he says. “Printed accumulated sub-totals were rounded to whole new pence, which avoided any discrepancy in final totals.

“The first priority was payroll, that had to go live in the week before D Day. We had to test all our computer systems in advance, to ensure that there would be no embarrassing errors to disrupt a smooth changeover and no queue of angry employees at the Wages Office.

“Then, after a few months, we changed all our systems again to use whole pence throughout.”