Catalogue Finding NumberC192
Office record is held atWakefield, West Yorkshire Archive Service
DescriptionFor Bradford 1903-1975, Dewsbury 1913-1976, Halifax 1944-1964, Huddersfield 1927-1962, Leeds 1929-1976, Wakefield 1947-1974, West Riding c1960-c1974
Extent35.68/146 boxes and 819 RM boxes
AdminHistory1 - The administrative background
1.1 - The earliest vehicle records in this deposit date from 1903, the year in which the Motor Car Act made it compulsory for vehicles to be registered with county or county borough councils,and to display registration marks.
1.2 - On 1 Jan 1904, when the act came into effect, the area of what is now West Yorkshire was served by 5 motor taxation authorities : the county boroughs of Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield and Leeds; and the West Riding county council. In 1913 a sixth motor taxation authority was created when Dewsbury became a county borough, and in 1915 Wakefield became the seventh.
1.3 - Most records in this deposit date from 1921 onwards, when the Roads Act of 1920 came into effect. The newly-formed Ministry of Transport was made responsible for motor taxation, with county and county borough councils operating the system on behalf of central government. From 1 January 1921 therefore, motor taxation records had a different legal status (from being local authority records to Public records) and a different format (from bound registers to individual vehicle files).
1.4 - In 1969 the Vehicle and Driving Licences Act transferred vehicle registration and taxation from local authorities to the Minister of Transport, with effect from 1 April 1971. The transfer of the function was delayed until 1 April 1978 by the centralisation of current vehicle records at Swansea.
On that day, the 7 motor taxation offices in West Yorkshire were replaced by a local vehicle licencing office in Huddersfield, and another in Leeds,
2 - The scope of the records
There are administrative records from the Leeds and West Riding offices, which include some statistical and financial information on driving licences issued (C192/6/1/1 and C192/8/1/5-8). Apart from these there are 4 main types of records, none of which relate specifically to drivers or driving licences.
2.1 - Registers of vehicles, 1903 - 1920
The registers record a description of each vehicle and its history until it was scrapped, and its registration mark was cancelled or transferred. Few, if any, of these vehicles still exist, but some of their registration marks are still 'live', having been transferred to new vehicles by owners wishing to retain 'cerished marks'. Registers of vehicles from Bradford and Dewsbury are at C192/2/1/1-2 and C192/3/1-5.
2.2 - Vehicle files from 1921
Bound registers of vehicles were superceded in 1921 by individual files for each vehicle, which normally record full details of vehicles, with changes of owner etc.
2.2.1 - Many early files concerned re-registration of vehicles that had been previously registered under the system before 1921.Files were normally destroyed after the vehicles in question were scrapped, and a great many more files were destroyed about 1978 as part of the centralisation of records on the Department of Transport`s computer at Swansea. As part of the same exercise, files were transferred to the Department`s central licence repository in Llandau: those which were subsequently found to be `live` were transferred to the computer, and the remainder were destroyed.
2.2.2 - When a vehicle was moved to a different local taxation area its file was sent from its originating office to the appropriate local taxation office, and the fact was noted on the index card for the vehicle (see paragraph 2.3). About 125,000 files on vehicles registered by the West Riding county council are at C192/8/4, and other vehicles registered by other authorities and subsequently transferred to the West Riding are at C192/8/5 (in room).
Summaries of destroyed files from Huddersfield are at C192/5/1/14-15.
2.3 INDEX CARDS, 1921 - c1977.
The cards consist of forms VE16, RF16, V2 etc and they complement the vehicle files. Cards were made out for each vehicle registered, and they record the movement of vehicle files to other authorities or to Swansea, or the C.L. repository at Llandau, some also record the destruction of files when vehicles were scrapped, the cancellation of registration marks, and the transfer of marks to other vehicles. The information on vehicles given by the cards is copious in some cases, and negligible in others. There are about 1/2 million index cards, relating to registrations by all 7 authorities
2.4.1 - These records, usually called `allocation registers` are not concerned with particular vehicles like vehicle registers: at their most basic they simply list registration marks, and the date when each mark (or block of marks) was allocated. In addition, most registers also say to whom each mark was allotted.(almost always a named firm of vehicle dealers), and when the allotted mark was registered (i.e taken up by the dealer and applied to a specific vehicle). Registration was normally within a few days of the allocation date, but some marks were held for a considerable time before being used on a vehicle, especially in the case of `cherished marks` and some allotted marks were never used. Some registers include information on vehicles. There are registers of registration marks from all 7 authorities.
2.4.2 - The tranfer of `cherished marks` from one vehicle to another complicated the allocation system. The vehicle form which the `cherished mark` was taken had to be given a new registration mark, and the licensing authorities reversed blocks of marks for this purpose. These blocks usually called "retentions" , include many registration marks which were never issued.
2.4.3 - Cancellations are included in some allocation registers, but some authorities used special registers of cancellations: Bradford (at C192/2/1/3) and Leeds (at C192/6/2/1-6).
2.4.4 - Registers of trade plates record a specialised group of registration marks : those issued to motor
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