When Solihull became a County Borough on 1st April 1964, it also became constituted as a registration and licensing authority for motor vehicles and drivers. From that day, Solihull drivers had to obtain their tax discs from the Local Taxation Officer at the Council House in Poplar Road. The DVLC (later DVLA) took over vehicle licensing from 1974.
An article in the Birmingham Post 1st April 1964 (pictured above) showed a mocked-up image of Solihull’s first plate, noting that as there are “more cars per head of population in Solihull than most towns,” there would be a considerable impact on Warwickshire’s registration statistics.
Prior to becoming a county borough, cars acquired in Solihull were given Warwickshire registration marks – AC, UE, WD, and their developments such as AAC and AUE.
The registration letters allocated to Solihull from 1964 were “A-Y XC” and the registration was in the form of a three-letter sequence (AXC from 1964) followed by a space and then a number (1-999) followed by the year suffix (B in 1964). The number would change for each vehicle registered and the year suffix would change annually (on 1st January until 1967 when it moved to 1st August each year).
The XC registration was already in use by London County Council, but they agreed not to use any ‘year letters’ as a suffix in order to avoid any confusion with the Solihull registrations (in other words, registration AXC 1 would be a London registration, AXC 1B would be a Solihull registration).
- The first ‘year letter’ for Solihull began with B (1964) following the introduction of the year suffix in 1963 as a means of addressing the shortage of registrations.
- The following year the year letter changed to C (1965), and so on. In 1967, there were two suffix changes – E on 1st January, and F on 1st August.
- The first vehicle registered for Solihull was AXC 1B.
AXC 1B was first registered on Solihull’s “Elevation Day” – 1st April 1964 – the day when Solihull became a County Borough and, therefore, a vehicle licensing authority.
It was registered to the Rover Motor Company and the vehicle bearing the number plate was a Rover 3-litre auto coupé, in grey and burgundy.
The car was destined for the Chairman of the Rover Company. Mr Lovedin George Thomas Farmer (1908-1996) who was Chairman of Rover 1963-1973 and Deputy Chairman of British Leyland Motor 1972-1973. He was knighted in 1968 as Sir George Farmer.
Vehicle registration ledgers for Solihull 1964-1974 are held at Coventry Transport Museum, from whom Heritage Certificates are available for purchase.
If you have any further information about AXC 1B, please let us know.
Library Specialist: Heritage & Local Studies