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UK No Plate

History of the UK Registration Plate

On this page we look at a brief history of the UK Registration Plate.
Nothing to do with the Anglia, but I thought it would be fun to look at.

UK Number Plate

I know that this has nothing to do with the Ford Anglia specifically, except for the fact that in the UK,
every car has to have a unique registration plate (commonly known as the number plate),
which, with a little decoding, also shows where a vehicle was initially registered.
(I will only cover the period of time that the Ford Anglia was available to buy brand new.)

… but first a very brief bit of History ...

The first series of number plates were issued following the Motor Car Act of 1903 and ran until 1932, using the series A1 – YY9999. The letter or pair of letters indicated the local authority in whose area the vehicle was registered. (Please see the table on the next page for which local authorities issued which numbers). When a licensing authority reached 9999, it was allocated another two letter mark, but there was no pattern to these subsequent allocations as they were allocated on a first come first served basis.

As the volume of registrations increased, this system quickly became inadequate, and so a new system was introduced (though not universally) in 1932. This consisted of three letters followed by three digits (e.g. YAS 552). The three-letter scheme preserved the area letter codes as the second pair of letters in the set of three while the first letter was a “counter” ascending through the alphabet (A, B, C etc). In the example Y is the counter letter, AS is the area office (Nainshire) and 552 is a random combination of numbers, starting at 1 for that letter combination (e.g. YAS) and going up to 999

In 1953 some local areas started issuing “reversed” registrations putting the numbers first (e.g. 552 YAS). When a few local areas exhausted those combinations in the early 1960s, they even went back to using just the area codes (including the single letter ones) with the letters at the end (e.g. 9999YY).

The Period the Ford Anglia was Available (1959 - 1968)

As previously described above, your new 1959 Ford Anglia 105E could have had any combination of numbers and letters depending on what part of the country you lived in.

My Ford Anglia Saloon’s original number plate was:

Reg Plate 2

Where the U was the counter letter, AW was the area office in Shropshire and it was the 501st car registered with the letter combination UAW

If you purchased your new Ford Anglia Super, Estate or Thames Van in 1961, then you too could have had any of the combinations of letters and numbers described above. Things couldn’t last and eventually this system became exhausted with the amount of new cars being registered. In 1963 an attempt was made to create a national scheme to alleviate the problem. A revolutionary new system of suffix letters was introduced, where each new year had a suffix letter, (starting with A in 1963) added to the three letter, three number combinations. (e.g. YAS 552 could become YAS 552A) Some areas adopted the scheme quite quickly, whereas others did not adopt the year letter for the first two years, sticking to their own schemes. In 1965 adding the year letter was made compulsory.

As well as yielding many more available numbers, it was a handy way for car buyers to know the age of the vehicle immediately. At first the year letter changed on January 1st every year, but car retailers started to notice that car buyers would tend to wait towards the end of the year for the new letter to be issued, so that they could get a "newer" car. This led to major peaks and troughs in sales over the year. To help flatten this out somewhat the industry lobbied to get the month of registration changed from January to August. This was done in 1967, a year that had two letter changes: "E" came in January, and "F" came in August.

Suffix Letter Date of Issue
A January 1963 to December 1963
B January 1964 to December 1964
C January 1965 to December 1965
D January 1966 to December 1966
E January 1967 to July 1967
F August 1967 to July 1968

If you had bought any of your favourite Ford Anglia models from 1963 until its demise in 1967, then you could have a number plate with a year letter suffix (depending on the area of the country your vehicle was registered.)

My Ford Anglia Van’s original number plate was:

Reg Plate 2

Where the J was the counter letter, BV was the area office in Blackburn, it was the 344th car registered with the letter combination JBV and has the suffix letter F, meaning it was registered sometime between August 1967 and July 1968.

The UK Registration Plates had white, grey or silver characters on a black background.
This style of plate was phased out in 1972, and is now only legal on vehicles first constructed before 1st January 1973, which is good news for Anglia owners. Although Anglia owners, if they wish, can use the current white / yellow reflective number plates with black letters on their vehicle. (Similar to that shown below).

Reg Plate 4

In the UK the Registration Plate usually stays with the vehicle for life and so the number is passed from owner to owner.
Number plates have to be fitted to both the front and rear of the vehicle, with the rear one needing to be illuminated.

Front Number Plate Rear Number Plate

So there you have it, a brief history of the UK Registration Plate over the span of the Ford Anglia’s production.

(Article Copyright MellY Designs - Please do not Reproduce without Permission)

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