A1 registration plate

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Year Description
1903 This is the year that the Motor Car Act became law. The A1 number plate was issued by London county council in 1903 to the second Earl Russell,[1] who is reported to have queued for the entire night outside the council offices to have the right to be able to buy it. He beat someone else to it by just five seconds. It seems, however, that this story is apocryphal as though Earl Russell's acquisition of A 1 was quite widely reported in the motoring press at the time this story the all-night queuing was not reported and as it is a "good human interest story" it is surprising that this was not recorded at the time.This is frequently reported as being the first number plate issued in Britain, but it is not - it was, however, the first registration issued by the London County Council. "Motoring Illustrated" of 19 December 1903 reported that the London county Council started issuing numbers on 7 December 1903, whereas other authorities started before that date. From surviving records, the first number known to have been issued is Hastings' DY 1 issued on 23 November 1903[2]. The plate was fitted by Sidney Powell, a 17 year old apprentice at the time.
1904 The Motor Car Act came into force on 1 January requiring the registration of motor vehicles.[3]
1906 The plate was sold to the Chairman of the London County Council along with the registration and the car it belonged to, a Napier.
1907 The head of the Maudes Group Motor Business, Mr. George Pettyt, bought the plate[1] and was successively transferred to each of his personal cars over the years. These included:
1950 The Sunbeam was bequeathed to Mr. Trevor Laker after George Pettyt's death. A condition of this was that, after his demise, Mr. Laker sell the plate and the proceeds be given to a dogs' charity. The plate was sold for £2,500 and the money donated to The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.[1]
1970 The Dunlop company took ownership and rights to "A 1". The plate was put onto a Daimler limousine that was used to transport VIPs to and from the Dunlop factories.
1975 The plate was used for a brief period on the Director of Engineering's car, a Mini. The tyre division later took ownership and was used for promotional purposes, including the marketing of the Denovo "fail-safe" wheels.
1985 BTR plc gained the "A 1" plate after it acquired Dunlop. The company's headquarters in Birmingham placed it on a Ford Granada.
2000 / 2005 The "A 1" plate was bought by Jefri Bolkiah after its sale by Insignia Registrations alongside the plate, "1 A". The plates were placed on matching, white Bentley Azures.
2017 The "A 1" plate can now be found on an R56 MINI Cooper S, owner unknown


  1. ^ a b c "In driving seat with A1 car number plate". Leicester Mercury. 12 April 2012. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  2. ^ Newall, Les (September 1995). "A 1 - Britain's First Registration". "1903 and all that" newsletter (61): 8.
  3. ^ "Motor-Car Regulations". The Times (37251). London. 30 November 1903. p. 2.