50 Years 1973
Welcome to 50 Years 1973 this is part seven of Tennants UK's 50th anniversary, this newspaper front page has events from the year 1973.
Ooh, the things we’ve seen …
Inspired by our 50th Anniversary, we’ve recently come over all sentimental and have been looking at the changes in our industry since we were first founded in 1967.
The history of vehicle registration in the UK goes back to well before our comparatively brief existence, and in fact, its origin can be traced as far back as 1934, when steam powered road vehicles were being developed as a precursor to the first railways. The Locomotive and Highways Act 1896 heralded the dawn of light motor vehicles and it was around this time that Benz introduced the first petrol driven car (which now resides in the Science Museum in London). The speed limit was a sedentary 12mph and regulations dictated that the driver of any motor vehicle must stop and offer assistance at the request of any police constable or person “in charge of a restive horse”.
In 1903, The Motor Car Act introduced measures to identify vehicles and their drivers, the speed limit was raised to an unnerving 20mph, and vehicles were taxed based on horsepower after The Finance Act of 1909-10.
Bringing us bang up to date (well; to within the last hundred years, anyway) 1919 saw the dawn of the Ministry of Transport, and - crucially for those of us in our industry – a year later, The Roads Act 1920 made it obligatory for Councils to register all vehicles and allocate a separate number to each.
At the very beginning, vehicle registration marks comprised a single alphanumeric pair of characters (the first being, somewhat unsurprisingly, A1) and was soon replaced by a two letter / four number format, which itself, was exhausted by the mid 1930s. After this … hold on, hold on, this is getting a bit dull isn’t it? Let’s skip forward a tad to the classic number plate formats some of us will actually remember!
“Suffix” registration marks were initially issued between ’63 – ’65, comprising three letters, three numbers and a year suffix (A – Z but omitting any letters which may be mistaken as numbers). Once this sequence was completed in 1983, some imaginative young firebrand decided to simply reverse the format, and so began the “Prefix” registration years.
But we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. Let’s at least TRY to keep this chronological, shall we?
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre in Swansea opened in 1965, predating possibly the most significant event in the history of UK number plates by two years. But we don’t want this piece to focus solely on ourselves; you can read more about Tennants UK on Social Media and our website).
As December 31st 1972 metamorphosed magically into January 1st 1973 (a similar event happens every year) the appearance of our number plates changed radically from silver on black to black on white (front) and black on yellow (rear) and, critically, were required to be reflective. This directive was the catalyst for the evolution of number plate production into the methods still used to this day. At the end of the 1980s, when we’d been taught to celebrate all things materialistic, the DVLA extended its core business by offering certain previously unissued registration marks for sale, inspiring the boom in cherished and personalised number plates to the level we see today.
MON 3Y, indeed!
Tennants UK - Celebrating 50 Years
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