HAMPSHIRE residents were some of the first to get their hands on the new £10 note featuring the face of renowned author Jane Austen.

Selected cashpoints in Winchester, which has ties with Austen, will be distributing the new polymer £10 notes as part of the launch today.

More than one billion of the new banknotes have been printed and will be sent out around the country over the coming weeks to enter general circulation.

Victoria Cleland, the Bank of England’s chief cashier, said: “Today is an exciting day.

“It is wonderful to see the inspirational author Jane Austen celebrated on the new £10, and even more poignant being launched during the 200th anniversary of her death.

“I am grateful to the cash industry for their support in bringing the cleaner, safer, stronger notes to the public.”

The paper £10 notes featuring Charles Darwin will be gradually withdrawn from circulation until legal tender status is withdrawn in spring 2018.

The exact date will be announced at a later date.

The new banknote, which is available form the Santander and Natwest branches in Winchester High Street, is the first in the UK with a tactile feature to support blind and partially sighted users and joins the Winston Churchill £5 note that was launched in September last year in the first series of polymer Bank of England banknotes.

A new £20 note featuring painter J.M.W Turner being launched in 2020.

It will also feature enhanced security to make it harder to counterfeit and is expected to last at least 2.5 times longer than the current paper £10 notes.

Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, said: “Our banknotes serve as repositories of the country’s collective memory, promoting awareness of the United Kingdom’s glorious history and highlighting the contributions of its greatest citizens.

“The new £10 note celebrates Jane Austen’s work. Austen’s novels have a universal appeal and speak as powerfully today as they did when they were first published.

“The new £10 will be printed on polymer, making it safer, stronger and cleaner.”