Information on Vehicle Registration records

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1 Information on Vehicle Registration records

2 Vehicle Registration From 1904 until the setting up of the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Centre (DVLC) in 1978, local councils in Scotland carried out road vehicle licensing. For more information about the licensing of cars and other road vehicles, and surviving historical records, see below. Motor Car Act 1903 The registration of road vehicles had been envisaged in the last decades of the nineteenth century, primarily to aid the policing of speed limits laid down in acts of parliament concerning roads. However, a registration system for motor vehicles was not implemented until 1903, under the Motor Car Act. In Scotland, registration was a function of county councils and town councils of the larger burghs (Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow). From 1904 registers were kept of all motorcars and motorcycles (either in combined or parallel registers) and licenses were issued to drivers (although no driving test was required). Number plates had to be attached to the front and rear of each vehicle, and these carried a combination of letters and numbers, which identified the county or burgh of registration. In Scotland, all registration numbers included the letters G, S or V. Roads Act 1902 In 1919 vehicle registration in the UK was placed under the supervision of the newly formed Ministry of Transport, but the administration system was left in the hands of county and burgh authorities under the Roads Act of 1920 (in Scotland the town councils of Coatbridge, Greenock, Kirkcaldy, Motherwell & Wishaw, and Paisley became licensing authorities). The Act confirmed the letter S as a vehicle identifier specific to Scotland, but the letters G and V were no longer to be applied solely to Scottish registrations. Separate registers for motorcycles were abolished. Record keeping changed. In addition to the bound register(s) of cars, motorbikes, and licenses issued, registration authorities were now to keep a record card for each registration mark, and a file on each vehicle. Although this made vehicle identification easier, the triplication of record keeping led to local variation in how records were kept, and in most cases the quality of information entered in bound registers began to deteriorate, as local authorities put most effort into keeping and updating the file and card records. National Registration System 1969 The 1969 Vehicle and Driving Licenses Act set up the centralised (and computerised) Driving and Vehicle Licensing Centre (DVLC) in Swansea, South Wales. The transition from local record keeping to national registration was supposed to have been completed by 1975, but local record keeping in some areas continued until 31 March The transition period coincided with the reorganisation of local authorities in Scotland (and England and Wales) and this was to have a serious effect on the preservation of the historical registers and other records

3 Survival of local registers Local registration offices had been instructed, by the Department of the Environment to transfer their surviving vehicle files to the DVLC in Swansea and to transfer registers to local archives services. However, during the transition period in the mid 1970s, few Scottish local authorities maintained a professional archive service, and those that did were heavily involved in the reorganisation of local government. Those local archive services that did exist made attempts in the 1970s and 1980s to locate and preserve surviving local registers and other registration records with varying degrees of success. Some managed to acquire them directly from local vehicle taxation offices. In many cases the survival of records from former counties and burghs was depressingly poor. Some registration offices may have destroyed records during their winding-up. Others may have been casualties of the reorganisation of local government administration. Others appear to have been transferred to Scottish police forces, either directly from local taxation offices when they closed, or via police forces, when these disposed of records in the 1980s. Bibliography Philip Riden, How to Trace the History of Your Car: a guide to motor vehicle registration records in Great Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands (London, 1991)

4 How can I tell where a car was registered from its pre-1978 registration plate? The following is a list of Scottish motor vehicle registrations. Vehicle Registration County, City or Burgh AG Ayrshire AS Nairnshire AV Aberdeenshire BS Orkney CS Ayrshire DS Peebleshire ES Perthshire FG Fife FS G GA GB GD GE GG GM Motherwell & Wishaw Burgh GS Perthshire HS Renfewshire JS Ross & Cromarty MS Stirlingshire NS Sutherland PS Shetland RG Aberdeen City RS Aberdeen City S SA Aberdeenshire SB Argyllshire SC SD Ayrshire SE Banffshire SF SG SH Berwickshire SJ Buteshire SK Caithness SM Dumfriesshire SN Dunbartonshire SO Morayshire SP Fife SR Angus SS East Lothian ST Inverness-shire SV Kinross-shire

5 SW SY TS US V VA VD VS WG XA XB XS Kircudbrightshire Midlothian Dundee City Lanarkshire Lanarkshire Lanarkshire Greenock Burgh Stirlingshire Kirkcaldy Burgh (from 1960s, previously allocated to London) Coatbridge Burgh (from 1960s, previously allocated to London) Paisley Burgh

6 Where can I find registration records for former (pre-1978) Scottish vehicle licensing offices? In most cases, the records listed are registers, but some are the registration cards (compiled under the 1920 Roads Act). Registration Burgh Surviving Dates Location RG Aberdeen City Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa RS Aberdeen City Presumed Destroyed XB Coatbridge Destroyed TS Dundee City Dundee City Archives TS Dundee City Dundee City Archives FS Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa S Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa SC Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa SF Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa SG Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa G Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa GA Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa GB Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa GD Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa GE Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa GG Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa US Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa VS Greenock Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa XA Kirkcaldy Destroyed GM Motherwell & Wishaw Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa XS Paisley Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa Registration County Surviving Dates Location AV Aberdeenshire Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa SA Aberdeenshire Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa SR Angus Dundee City Archives SR Angus Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa SB Argyllshire Argyll & Bute Archives SB Argyllshire Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa AG Ayrshire Presumed Destroyed CS Ayrshire Presumed Destroyed SD Ayrshire Presumed Destroyed SE Banffshire Moray Heritage Officer SH Berwickshire Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa SJ Buteshire Archives SK Caithness (cards) Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa SK Caithness Not known Registers believed to be in private hands. Enquiries to Highland Council Archives., SL Clackmannanshire Presumed Destroyed SM Dumfriesshire Dumfries & Galloway Archives SM Dumfriesshire Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa SN Dunbartonshire Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa

7 SS East Lothian Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa FG Fife Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa SP Fife Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa ST Inverness-shire Highland Council Archives ST Inverness-shire Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa SU Kincardineshire Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa SV Kinross-shire Dundee City Archives SW Kircudbrightshire Dumfries & Galloway Archives V Lanarkshire Presumed Destroyed VA Lanarkshire Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa VD Lanarkshire Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa SX Linlithgowshire Archives SX Linlithgowshire Archives SX Linlithgowshire Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa SY Midlothian Archives SO Morayshire Moray Heritage Officer AS Nairnshire Presumed Destroyed BS Orkney Orkney Archives BS Orkney Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa DS Peebleshire Presumed Destroyed ES Perthshire Dundee City Archives ES Perthshire Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa GS Perthshire Presumed Destroyed HS Renfewshire Archives JS Ross & Cromarty 1974 Highland Council Archives JS Ross & Cromarty Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa PS Shetland Shetland Archives MS Stirlingshire Stirling Council Archives WG Stirlingshire Presumed Destroyed NS Sutherland Highland Council Archives NS Sutherland Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa SX West Lothian Archives SX West Lothian Archives SX West Lothian Kithead Trust, Droitwich Spa The Kithead Trust De Salis Drive Hampton Lovett Droitwich Spa Worcs WR9 0QE Tel: (Enquiries by letter or to only) Moray s Heritage East End School, Institution Road, Elgin, Moray, IV30 1RP. Tel: Fax:

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