INNOVATIVE workers in Westhoughton will play a major role as Britain and countries across the globe move towards stronger and cleaner banknotes.

De La Rue, which has a manufacturing site in Wingates, is one of just two companies in the world that produces the polymer that the new £10 note, launched last week, is made of.

Although the new De La Rue-designed tenner, which features the novelist Jane Austen, is not printed in Westhoughton, the site helps produce polymer substrate and security features for customers in more than 150 nations.

The company's Bolton site, where 192 people are employed, has benefited from a £10 million investment in new equipment since 2013 and it is hoped that the Bank of England's move to polymer notes will spark a worldwide trend.

De La Rue's Chris Gannon said: "The employees here are part of a growing business making a multitude of products.

"Although the £10 note polymer substrate is not produced here, to be part of a company with such a global portfolio and involved in the launch of the new £10 note is something we are all really proud of.

"Following the launches of the new £5 and £10 notes, with Westhoughton being a polymer manufacturing site we are very excited to be part of a rapidly growing product stream."

MPs Chris Green and David Crausby both visited the Westhoughton site last week for a closer look at the ground-breaking techniques being developed there.

The firm has based its security thread operation in Wingates since 2001 and expanded the site in 2013 to incorporate its holographics facility, which was previously based in Basingstoke.

Every year the company, which also produces the current UK passport, produces two million kilometres of banknote security thread, enough to go around the Earth 66 times, and 1.4 billion security holograms.

The new tenner — expected to last at least two-and-a-half times longer than the current paper note — is the first Bank of England banknote with a tactile feature to help blind and partially-sighted users.

Legal tender status of the paper £10 featuring Charles Darwin will eventually be withdrawn in spring 2018.

A new £20 note featuring artist JMW Turner will follow in 2020.