THE ten pound note has been released into circulation.

Dozens flocked to the cash machines at Nationwide's headquarters on Pipers Way on this morning as the branch was one of the first banks in the country to receive the new notes.

Customer representative Kelly Marriott saw a surge of customers coming into the Swindon Croft branch to swap their old paper notes for a shiny polymer one.

She said: "It was really busy after G4S loaded the money into the machines around 6am and there were a lot of people coming in when we opened at 8 because it's the only place in Swindon to get the new notes.

"At the moment we are restricted to giving out five at a time to customers, though that will increase when the mad rush goes away."

The old paper tenners can still be spent but they are being gradually phased out and will be fully withdrawn from circulation in spring 2018.

The new, smaller notes feature a different design and sturdier material with added security measures to combat currency counterfeiting, similar to the new five-pound notes which were rolled out earlier this year.

Foil patches, an ultraviolet feature, a see-through window with different-coloured designs on the front and back of the note, a quill which changes colour when the note is tilted, raised print and micro-lettering will make fake notes harder to create and easier to spot.

A tactile feature with raised dots on one corner will help partially-sighted and blind people identify the value of the note.

The old note's portrait of Charles Darwin has been replaced with one of 19th-century English novelist Jane Austen above a quote from Pride and Prejudice.

There is also an illustration of the novel's protagonist Elizabeth Bennet and a sketch of Godmersham Park, the estate owned by Jane Austen's brother, next to her portrait.

The note is being released on the 200th anniversary of her death.

Kelly added: "It's nice to see a woman on there.

"Some of the notes will have her date of birth or date of death or the publication date of her first novel to make them special and collectible.

"We don't have any of the notes with AA serial numbers at this branch so there might not be any special ones here, but who knows?"

More than one million new notes were released into circulation today.

They are expected to last at least two-and-a-half times longer than the current notes, around five years in total, and stay in better condition during day-to-day use.

The £20 will undergo a similar polymer transformation in 2020 with a different tactile pattern and feature artist JMW Turner.

Kelly said: "I've been part of the branch network for 12 years and never seen a fake £10 note, though we had a few people ripping and even burning their £10 notes after the new fiver came out; I think they were just testing its durability.

"Most of the counterfeit notes we get are £20 ones so I think so that the new £20 will make a huge difference and the improvements in security will be even better than the 10 and five-pound notes when it's released in a few years."