Confuse-a-spotter

Most of the territories which Britain managed in the earlier years of the 20th. century were given registration systems firmly anchored in the design and layout of the Construction and Use regulations of the home country.     As a result, far-flung places could have identical plates and an early spotter relied on the vehicle carrying an international oval at the back, if it travelled outside its own land.

The most prolific type was the letter ‘P’ (which usually stood for Private vehicle-but not always) followed by up to four numbers.     First, though, are three  ‘AY’  examples, all still legally circulating in their respective countries.     First, Turkish Northern Cyprus, AY 255.

Turkish Northern Cyprus AY 255

Then, AY 230 – Alderney, Channel Isles (GBA)
Alderney, Channel Isles - AY 230

and Hong Kong (HK) ( a  re-issue, as AY 995 is quite old now, on a new car.)
Hong Kong AY 995

No identifying ovals, unfortunately, but I do remember where I took the pictures!

~~~~~~~

Perhaps the most confusing set of identical plates was issued in the Windward Islands.    One had to chase the car and interview the driver to obtain the island of issue, as they hardly ever carried an international oval….

GRENADA (WG) on an MG TD in Newmarket, GB in 1964. P 2734

1972 photo of an Austin 1300 in London, from Barbados, where P codes the parish of St. Philip.

1972 photo of a Morris 1300, P 475, in London, from Barbados, where P codes the parish of St. Philip.

 

P 2909 - the original series for Antigua.

P 2909 – the original series for Antigua.

St. Kitts & Nevis went on to P and numbers, when it had exhausted its original CN prefix (Christopher & Nevis)   1980 picture by Vic Brumby on St. Kitts.

P 335 – St. Kitts & Nevis went on to P and numbers, when it had exhausted its original CN prefix (Christopher & Nevis).   1980 picture on a Rover 90, by Vic Brumby on St. Kitts.

St. Vincent, the rarest of the W set of Windward Islands, seen in London in 1969, and still the only one ever.    The owner had to be stopped and asked, to learn the island of source.    Peugeot 404 - Brumby archive.

St. Vincent, the rarest of the W set of Windward Islands, (WV, WG, WL & WD) seen in London in 1969, and still the only one ever. The owner had to be stopped and asked, to learn the island of source.   Months later, P 2277 was found parked in a far distant part of London, ad a photo grabbed – Peugeot 404 – Brumby archive.

Trinidad used up to P 9999 long ago, but still re-issue as cherished plates if needed.    That's what this one is.    P 6000, taken there in 1987 by VB.

Trinidad used up to P 9999 long ago, but still re-issue P as cherished plates if needed. That’s what this one is. P 6000, taken there in 1987 by VB.   Black on white indicates taxi licence, as with Mauritius below.

Bermuda is not far away, though not in the West Indies, and used the same P system.   The motorbike shows P 1936 and was photo'din  the early 1950s.

Bermuda is not far away, though not in the West Indies, and used the same P system. The motorbike shows P 1936 and was photo’d
in the early 1950s.

P 135 is from distant Mauritius, where the white background shows it to be a taxi - a Hillman Minx, shot by VB in Port Louis, 1980s.

P 135 is from distant Mauritius, where the white background shows it to be a taxi – a Hillman Minx, shot by VB in Port Louis, 1980s.

 

Northern Rhodesia allocated 'P' code to Lusaka and Mumbwa and Reg Wilson capured P 1106 in Britain in 1961.

Northern Rhodesia allocated ‘P’ code to Lusaka and Mumbwa and Reg Wilson captured P 1106 in Britain in 1961.

P 5373 was issued to Penang as a Straits Settlement in Malaya  in the1920s - and this Ford Anglia was photographed there as recently as 2012!

P 5373 was issued to Penang as a Straits Settlement in Malaya in the1920s – and this Ford Anglia was photographed there as recently as 2012, by Douglas Fox!

France kept the enclaves of Pondichery and Karikal in Madras State, South India, tagging the vehicles there in the P and K series.     This Cadillac P 1452  has survived the obligatory change to white Indian plates, when this photo was taken.   Thanks to Cedric Sabine.

France kept the enclaves of Pondichery and Karikal in Madras State, South India, tagging the vehicles there in the P and K series, using the British-style font of India. This Cadillac P 1452 had survived the obligatory change to white Indian plates, when this photo was taken. Thanks to Cedric Sabine.

 

P 8825 - Similarly , French Tahiti sometimes used British-style plates for the original series of up to four numerals followed by a 'P' for Privé.   VB photo in Papeete, 2002.

P 8825 – Similarly , French Tahiti sometimes used British-style plates for the original series of up to four numerals followed by a ‘P’ for Privé.        VB photo on a Land Rover in Papeete, 2002.

END (Unless you know otherwise????

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3 Responses to Confuse-a-spotter

  1. David says:

    A friend pointed out your note here about the HK number plates running out, and being replaced by XX. I’ve been looking for a record of what numbers were issued when, to help us date old photos from Hong Kong, (eg see http://gwulo.com/node/15398). Please do you know if any such list exists?

    Thanks & regards, David

    • Hail David –

      Here is your dating info. requested:

      It is unknown when the first registrations took place. Probably before 1910.
      HK used numerals (1-9999) only until 1951, with black on white for private vehicles and white on black for commercials inc. taxis, which were issued from the same series.
      1951 HK 1000-9999* (So 9,000 numerals-only took 40 years!)
      1957 XX 1-9999 (the HK 10,000 took 6 years)
      1958 AA1-9999, AB 1-9999 etc. etc., the XX 10,000 having taken a year!!) System still in issue.

      1983 reflective background plates made law.

      For an unknown period, p.s.v. (buses and hire vehicles) employed white letters on a red ground.

      Until 1962, two-wheelers used, first, numerals 1-999*, then A 301-999, then B 1-899, then C 1-899 etc. all in black on white.

      No change to system since 1997 China adoption.(!)

      Any early pictures (say pre-1955) showing plates, I’d be delighted to see, David…. The street shot of the new-looking Austin A70 Hampshire would have taken in 1951 or 1952, I opine.

  2. richardpd says:

    My parents went on a Carribean cruise in 1996 & noticed how most of the commonwealth islands used older style British plates. On the same holiday they managed to bring me back a plate from St Thomas in the American Virgin Islands.

    I’ve noticed that some African countries use an abeviation of their country name on their plates to avoid confusion.

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