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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Posting in Classic as closest fit. Mods move if necessary. :laugh2:

Hoping someone in the UK can help me here. I have a Thruxton 900 (I know not a true classic) and its traditional look is what drew me to the bike. In that spirit, I have continued to keep my appearance mods within the vintage-like theme. I also find the whole UK youth sub-culture of teds, rockers, mods and generally the Brit motorcycle rise & fall backstories of the 50’s 60’s personally interesting from a historical perspective. That said, I found some discontinued UK number plates. They were advertised as “vintage from the 1940’s” but I didn’t really believe it nor care about that as I merely wanted them to give my bike a more authentic vibe. See Below for the plates in question.

As it is winter now where I am and can’t ride, I decided to spend the time by researching these plates to see if in fact they are “vintage from the 1940’s”. Please keep in mind I have never been to the places mentioned below and all of this pre-dates my birth. If you see flaws in my research – PLEASE call it out and correct me. All help appreciated.

The Number Series:


My research tells me the 6-Digit Series is within the 1932-1963 date range, since in 1963 going forward the UK went to a 7-Digit format with a last letter code to identify YEAR of issuance - Example ABC 123A. I found a classic car site that stated the 6-Digit format should decipher like this…..

G = Random Serial Number, first introduced in JUN-1958 ---> and used onward
BG = The Area Identifier indicating Birkenhead on the Wirral peninsula across the River Mersey from Liverpool. This code was used for Birkenhead until 1974 when it was reassigned to Liverpool
205 = Random numbers 1-999

As an example, below is photo of a car in Birkenhead with EBG 202. This picture is pretty close in time as that car was bought in (BG)-Birkenhead sometime in (E)-1956, or 2 years earlier than my number series.

So now I know that my number series is between the years 1958-1962 on a vehicle bought in Birkenhead. I believe the number series are issued at the point of original sale and stay with a vehicle even if the owner moves to a different locale within the UK. However, numbers can be transferred amongst vehicle types if within specific age criteria. MOT and DVLA online registration and tax search inquires are only allowed from 2005 onwards, so this series is too old for online search.

How can I get the full DVLA history of my GBG 205 number series? Many of the local agency DVLAs were apparently consolidated to trim govt operating expenses. I am obsessed to know if this originated on an auto, truck or truly a motorcycle. If a motorcycle from 1958-1962, what kind? And I would love to know through what dealer at the time. I came across (3) big Liverpool based dealers during that period

1. Victor Horsman Ltd
2. Cundle’s
3. The Bee Motors Ltd

Any help on how to get the full history would be appreciated. What output log/report does the DVLA provide if anyone knows? I am sure there is a fee for manual search and if nominal I would be willing to paypal someone to be my arms and legs to post the results here.
 

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My 53 Bentley that I owned in BC Canada, from about 75 to 95, had the original plates on it. The letters showed where it was from as you stated. That is about all I know. Most of the Rolls Royce and Bentley cars in BC, have the original UK plates on them.
Some of the bikes do as well.

UK
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
^Just some other info to this already long post (sorry about that)

The Plate Construction


Since my number series is between 1958-1962, the original plates would have been silver or white characters upon a black background. Front and rear plates would have been required then also. It is obvious that physical plates were replaced. The fact that the narrow front one is in black letter white reflective scheme tells me it was replaced probably post 1969 as that is when UK went to yellow rears and white fronts and in 1973 front display became optional for legacy vehicles that qualify.

The rear plate is flat aluminum with reflective yellow backing sticker and vinyl stick-on letters which would have been legal in the 70s-80s-90s. The plate was probably taken out of service in 2001 as British Standard 145d requires flexibility and aluminum fails that requirement. I can only assume the Euro stars came on the plate post 1998 to meet EU standards and gives a clue that vehicle was able to travel legally throughout EU member states.

I am guessing these replacement plates came through Kellaway Motorcycles in Bristol (still operating BTW). I can only guess the motorcycle they were on, was then traded to Kellaway and Kellaway reissued the number series on updated plates at the time when sold to the next owner.
 

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The EU stars are not a legal requirement non of my bikes have them , though I used to have a plate on a car with a cartoon of a naked man with his head inserted where the sun doesn't shine inside the euro star logo . It is possible to get " show plates " made up with black background and white letters and due to low police levels get away with it for quite some time .
 

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A good idea to also ask about plates on the IKBA site.
My R111 numberplate has a pumpkin faded in under the numbers. Not been pulled up for it yet despite a police car sitting behind me in traffic. My two old bikes have old aluminium plates black with bright aluminium numbers/letters.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The EU stars are not a legal requirement non of my bikes have them
Yep - The Euro stars are merely a convenient option. Would you have any idea how I could get a full registration history report showing First Registration and subsequent keepers of numbers?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
So learned a bit more today. The DVLA closest to Birkenhead\Liverpool would have been DVLA-Chester, which of course closed in 2013, to be consolidated and now serviced by centralized services through DVLA-Swansea.

Also learned that the DVLA system keeps a central Registration history database, but it is most robust from 1983-Present. Before 1983, it would be inherited local records and probably spotty data at best.

Does anyone even think it possible that I could trace GBG 205 back to its First Registration? I would think folks with classic motorcycles meeting the 40 year Exemption would have attempted to discern ownership history. I would think it would value to the classic.
 

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Hi,

MyEvilTwin;2004031716 said:
How can I get the full DVLA history of my GBG 205 number series?
Imho, start with the DVLA itself. What's now known as the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) was created as the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Centre (DVLC) in 1965, based near Swansea in Wales. Before that, driver and vehicle licensing was handled by local government authorities - city or county councils - and aiui, for many years after 1965, what had been city or council departments dealing with driver and vehicle licensing simply became local offices of the DVLC.

Driver and vehicle licensing systems were computerised separately through the mid-to-late-1970's. Before this, a vehicle had a 'log book' in buff or green folded cardboard, with space for several owners' names and addresses; the log book was supposed to be passed on when the vehicle was sold, the new owner filling in his or her details in the first vacant area; if the log book was full, it was taken to the local city or county office, where it'd be replaced by a new log book and the old one would be filed. Once the first computerised vehicle licensing system was up and running, when a vehicle changed hands, either buyer or seller sent the cardboard log book to Swansea, the new owner receiving a computer-printed form of the vehicle details, one being just the previous owner's name and address (the cardboard log book could show all previous owners' names and addresses).

IIrc, new owners could request the old cardboard log book was returned with the new computer printout but many didn't; Swansea retained cardboard log books for many years but also iirc, they were shredded or pulped many years ago. Similarly, while a few city and county councils still have their archives, many shredded/pulped theirs long before anyone was interested in old vehicles' history. :(

So, regrettably, you might find the DVLA can't provide any earlier history than the mid-1970's ... :(

To find out if any 1950's/early-1960's cardboard log books still exist, first bear in mind much of British local government was reorganised in 1974 and some of it's been reorganised again since. Absent better information in another post, I'd first find out what Birkenhead's local authority is now - e.g. the City of Liverpool, the county of Cheshire, a separate 'unitary authority' - and if there's an archive or archivist. If you get lucky, the old log books might still exist, if not in the current local authority's archive, in another local one. But don't hold your breath ...

MyEvilTwin;2004031716 said:
obsessed to know if this originated on an auto, truck or truly a motorcycle.
Afaik, almost certainly on a motorcycle. When the current obsession of mainly the British nouveau riche with either having vehicle registrations that 'read' as something or disguising the age of vehicle with an 'old' registration first became common in the 1980's, a registration could only be transferred to a similar or 'larger' vehicle - from a motorcycle to a car but not from a car to a motorcycle. However, I don't know whether it'd always been so or whether that was a new regulation then, to stop 'numberplate dealers' transferring all registrations to old mopeds (small motorcycles) just for storage.

The fact that the narrow front one is in black letter white reflective scheme tells me it was replaced probably post 1969 as that is when UK went to yellow rears and white fronts and in 1973 front display became optional for legacy vehicles that qualify.

The rear plate is flat aluminum with reflective yellow backing sticker and vinyl stick-on letters which would have been legal in the 70s-80s-90s. The plate was probably taken out of service in 2001 as Bri a clue that vehicle was able to travel legally throughout EU member states.
You're confused.

Plates with a reflective background (white at the front, yellow at the rear) were optional from 1968 and legally-required on all vehicles manufactured on or after 1st January 1979. Front plates on motorcycles ceased to be a legal requirement in GB some time in (September?) 1975. Your front one is unusual. An educated guess says the letters and numbers are about 1-1/2" high, which were motorcycle only (characters on other vehicles were/are taller) but most motorcycle front plates were curved, because they were mounted lengthways on the front mudguard (fender).

The rear plate wasn't necessarily "taken out of service in 2001"; any regulation like BS Au 145d isn't retrospective; if the plate was in use when the regulations came into force, the plate could continue in use.

"Euro stars" (or a national flag) is optional and simply obviates the requirement for a vehicle to display a separate national identifier plate/sticker at the rear when travelling outside the country of origin (GB in this case).

guessing these replacement plates came through Kellaway Motorcycles in Bristol (still operating BTW). I can only guess the motorcycle they were on, was then traded to Kellaway and Kellaway reissued the number series on updated plates at the time when sold to the next owner.
Only the rear plate came from Kellaway. It's standard format so post-dates when the "Euro stars" became common (1997?). Even before the 2001 legal requirement for a plate to display the maker's details, dealers in any vehicles usually changed the plates even on used vehicles, for ones with their details.

The front plate wasn't supplied by Kellaway Motorcycles, it pre-dates 1975, probably by several years - when it was known that front plates on motorcycles were to cease being a legal requirement, dealers stopped replacing them, a second-hand bike I bought a few months before the change had a bent-'n'-straightened front plate that was white characters on a black background.

Not sure why you would you "guess the motorcycle they were on". Kellaway's name and details are on a standard-format plate most likely because they sold the motorcycle. Could well have been the original motorcycle; Kellaway cannot have "reissued the number", transfer would've been time-consuming, nothing 'special' about the letter/numbers combination so nothing financial in it for the dealer. As they're still going, why not contact them to see what record they have?

MyEvilTwin;2004031716 said:
would love to know through what dealer at the time. I came across (3) big Liverpool based dealers
Could've been a smaller dealer; especially through the 1950's, motorcycle ownership was high (and car ownership low) in GB so it would've been common to find at least one motorcycle dealer on a town's major retail street and others down back streets.

MyEvilTwin;2004031716 said:
My research tells me the 6-Digit Series is within the 1932-1963 date range, since in 1963 going forward the UK went to a 7-Digit format
Mmmm ... sort-of ... :)

Because new vehicle registrations were issued by cities or counties up to the mid-1960's, a city like London or Liverpool used up its allocation faster than, say, a county in northern Scotland or west Wales. So it was big cities that first started using the 7-character format from some time during 1962 but it didn't become universal 'til 1965 (year letter "C"; which'd coincide with the creation of the DVLC?).

Aside, some Scottish registrations were never issued originally and, now, if a vehicle's registration has been sold and someone later wants to put that vehicle back on the road, the DVLA issue an 'age related' registration which is frequently one of those originally-unissued Scottish ones (depending on the 'age', "S" in the middle of three letters, the first of two letters or on its own).

MyEvilTwin;2004031716 said:
G = Random Serial Number, first introduced in JUN-1958 ---> and used onward
BG = The Area Identifier indicating Birkenhead
205 = Random numbers 1-999
To be clear, the prefix character and the numbers weren't "Random", the Birkenhead office would've started with "ABG 1", worked its way through the numbers contiguously, gone from "ABG 999" to "BBG 1" and so on to "YBG 999", missing out "IBG" and not using "ZBG".

MyEvilTwin;2004031716 said:
photo of a car in Birkenhead with EBG 202. This picture is pretty close in time as that car was bought in (BG)-Birkenhead sometime in (E)-1956, or 2 years earlier than my number series.
I'm guessing you mean the car with the "L" (Learner driver) plate attached. Just out of curiosity, how do you know the date of purchase (actually "Date of First Registration")?

Finally here, the "IKBA" mentioned by "rambo" is https://members5.boardhost.com/classicbikemart/ (don't worry about any anti-virus warning, the underlying software's a bit rickety and the warned link doesn't actually exist :)). You'll need to sign up to the forum to post any questions, most contributors are GB-based and someone might be able to provide more detail.

Hth.

Regards,
 

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Discussion Starter #11
First and foremost, Thank You Mr. StuartMac! You are the man - great info here.

Imho, start with the DVLA itself.
Yep - I am planning to leverage the DVLA email enquiry feature. I know the numbers are not on the DVLA online search, so that tells me the numbers had not been registered or taxed since 2005.

Before this, a vehicle had a 'log book' in buff or green folded cardboard, with space for several owners' names and addresses; the log book was supposed to be passed on when the vehicle was sold, the new owner filling in his or her details in the first vacant area; if the log book was full, it was taken to the local city or county office, where it'd be replaced by a new log book and the old one would be filed.
Thank you for this clarification. I read about the "log book" but could not find an example. I assumed that would have been localized paperwork hard to find and, as you mention, I may hit a roadblock if they were binned and never made it into computer systems.

Absent better information in another post, I'd first find out what Birkenhead's local authority is now - e.g. the City of Liverpool, the county of Cheshire, a separate 'unitary authority' - and if there's an archive or archivist. If you get lucky, the old log books might still exist, if not in the current local authority's archive, in another local one. But don't hold your breath ...
This is a great suggestion. I will look for some historical records management entity in that area. If anyone on this forum, is from the Wirral area and can suggest such an organization - PLEASE POST!


When the current obsession of mainly the British nouveau riche with either having vehicle registrations that 'read' as something or disguising the age of vehicle with an 'old' registration first became common in the 1980's, a registration could only be transferred to a similar or 'larger' vehicle - from a motorcycle to a car but not from a car to a motorcycle.
This is my biggest worry as it would break the "chain of custody" so to speak and confuse the originating vehicle.

Your front one is unusual. An educated guess says the letters and numbers are about 1-1/2" high, which were motorcycle only (characters on other vehicles were/are taller) but most motorcycle front plates were curved, because they were mounted lengthways on the front mudguard (fender).
Again, thanks for closing my understand gap here. I had assumed by the 70's-80's that maybe the whole pedestrian slicer on mudguard thing would have evolved into "across-the-forks" <see pic> to avoid the claimed pedestrian injuries in frontal accidents.

The rear plate wasn't necessarily "taken out of service in 2001"; any regulation like BS Au 145d isn't retrospective; if the plate was in use when the regulations came into force, the plate could continue in use.
Good clarification, so basically had the owner decided to pay tax on the number set it would have lived on even on the older plate medium.

Only the rear plate came from Kellaway. It's standard format so post-dates when the "Euro stars" became common (1997?). The front plate wasn't supplied by Kellaway Motorcycles, it pre-dates 1975, probably by several years. Not sure why you would you "guess the motorcycle they were on". Kellaway's name and details are on a standard-format plate most likely because they sold the motorcycle. Could well have been the original motorcycle; Kellaway cannot have "reissued the number", transfer would've been time-consuming, nothing 'special' about the letter/numbers combination so nothing financial in it for the dealer. As they're still going, why not contact them to see what record they have?
This is most helpful as you cleared up some of the "process" for me. I just sent an email to Kellaway earlier today, so I will share what they tell me. I told them I was not interested in previous owners, but just the vehicle details. I hope GDPR or other Data Protection Acts don't scare them off any disclosure.

To be clear, the prefix character and the numbers weren't "Random", the Birkenhead office would've started with "ABG 1", worked its way through the numbers contiguously, gone from "ABG 999" to "BBG 1" and so on to "YBG 999", missing out "IBG" and not using "ZBG".
Yep - I learned that after my original post. Theoretically, the FBG-series, GBG-series, HBG-series could have overlapped the same calendar year.

I'm guessing you mean the car with the "L" (Learner driver) plate attached. Just out of curiosity, how do you know the date of purchase (actually "Date of First Registration")?
Yes exactly that car in the photo. I made some mistaken logical inferences there based on this website.
I do not definitively know the Date of First Registration of that car, but zeroed in on the beginning date of when "E" series started in the link. But as you state, as that series runs through its 999 set of number it would cross other calendar years beyond 1956.

Again thank you for your reply as you have rounded out my understanding of the overall system.

40.jpg
 

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This is a great suggestion. I will look for some historical records management entity in that area. If anyone on this forum, is from the Wirral area and can suggest such an organization - PLEASE POST!
Hi, I live near the Wirral - until a few years ago I lived on the Wirral (it's the peninsula between the estuaries of the Rivers Dee and Mersey).

Wirral used to be part of the County of Cheshire (where I live now), until (IIRC) the big local government re-organisation of 1974 that created Merseyside (i.e the Liverpool area). So, at the date of first registration, the green logbook which the bike would have had would have been issued by the vehicle registration authorities in Cheshire. The Cheshire Record Office may have the details:


...but I doubt it!

You could try the Liverpool records office (just across the water (i.e the Mersey) from Birkenhead.


Again, I'll be surprised if you get lucky - but you might get a suggestion on where to look next.

Finally, try an email to these guys:


They regularly have letters from people trying to trace old motorcycles - you might get lucky.

ATB

Andy
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
^Thank you Andy. So funny, I was just on that Cheshire Archives site last night. Their online catalogue does have Registers of Motor Vehicle Registrations.....but for Warrington-ED and Chester-FM mostly (i.e. AFM 1-999, etc.). There may be a reference to GBG 205 in the Motor Offenses records they hold. I do think my best chance, if any, is in the Chesire Records.

Tried the Wirral Archives, but their online catalogue did not have Motor Vehicle Registrations, maybe they do somewhere else there, but I am doubting it. I just sent Wirral Archives an email. We will see what turns up.

Also struck out on the Liverpool City Council archives online Catalogue - Again no Motor Vehicle Registrations.

Kellaway Motorcycles in Brisol has not gotten back to me yet. They probably think I some kind of wacko...lol.
 

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^Thank you Andy. So funny, I was just on that Cheshire Archives site last night. Their online catalogue does have Registers of Motor Vehicle Registrations.....but for Warrington-ED and Chester-FM mostly (i.e. AFM 1-999, etc.). There may be a reference to GBG 205 in the Motor Offenses records they hold. I do think my best chance, if any, is in the Chesire Records.

Tried the Wirral Archives, but their online catalogue did not have Motor Vehicle Registrations, maybe they do somewhere else there, but I am doubting it.

Also struck out on the Liverpool City Council archives online Catalogue - Again no Motor Vehicle Registrations.

Kellaway Motorcycles in Brisol has not gotten back to me yet. They probably think I some kind of wacko...lol.
There's no certainty that Kellway will have any records. We used to be able to walk into any motor parts shop or garage and get them to make up a plate. That stopped a few years ago - now you have to provide your vehicle registration documents (aka Title) to have a plate made. Kellaway could have made the plate up at any time before the change in the rules without any need for proof of entitlement to that number, and in that case would be unlikely to have any record of it.

AIUI, DVLA now offer a paid-for service providing some history of the number - but no doubt you are on to that already.

We'll be interested to hear how you get on though - keep us posted!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Just struck out at Wirral Archives. Help me DVLA you're my only hope. :-(

Thank you for your enquiry. I am afraid that vehicle registration records survive very badly for the Wirral – for Birkenhead we only hold licences from 1928 to 1931. (I attach our note on Vehicle Registration records.)

I am sorry to give a disappointing reply.
 

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Pity - but not surprising. That area, being adjacent to the River Mersey and Liverpool, was heavily bombed during WW2. It was easy for the German bombers to find and the docks were of major strategic importance. I'd suspect that a lot of pre-1939 records were lost to wartime damage. Later records may just not have been kept. Why would you keep a record for more than 20 years say when the vehicle it related to was almost certainly no longer on the road?

Fingers crossed for the DVLA then....
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Why would you keep a record for more than 20 years say when the vehicle it related to was almost certainly no longer on the road?
In case some tenacious wacko yank comes asking about them some 60 years later...Duh!

Is it really that unreasonable of an ask? :unsure::rolleyes::)
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Well...the DVLA just sent me an email stating that they cannot disclose any vehicle information outside of the UK. Sounds like GDPR restricted. Unfortunately, this puts an end to my search. However, the tone of the email sounded like they may actually have records on GBG 205, just that they cannot disclose it to me since I am outside of the UK and they cannot definitively ascertain my identity.

Damn, so close but yet so far. I guess I will never know and the mystery continues.
 
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