UK Car Registration Numbers - A Brief History
In the UK, vehicle registration numbers began to be issued in consequence of the Motor Car Act 1903. Numbers were originally issued by Counties and County Boroughs, and latterly by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. At first the issuing authority was denoted by a single or double letter code; this denoted the authority that maintained the registers relating the numerical portion with the name and address of the vehicle keeper. Although 3-letter codes were issued from 1932 (there were not enough earlier codes to deal with increasing traffic), reversed codes appeared in 1953 and suffix letters from 1963, the system introduced in 1903 lasted broadly unchanged until September 2001.
This article was written to set out what was known, in the knowledge that the system was shortly to be changed. Work stopped on publication of this work when a book by another author hit the press, but as each has some material not covered by the other it has been posted here anyway
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