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Dave Packs ‘em In

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p154 cab

Cabbie Dave Packer’s registration, P154 CAB, simply means P for Packer, 154 is his taxi registration number and CAB is self-explanatory:

Observing the thousands of index marks available in the Regtransfers.co.uk magazine, I wondered how many owners of these marks know the area where they were originally issued, a subject that has interested me for over forty years.

Living in The Isle of Man, I noticed, at an early age, that all licence plates incorporated the letters MN, with or without a prefix. But it was years later that my interest in index marks really started.

Moving around the UK with my parents, to various RAF bases, we arrived in Huntingdon in the mid-sixties, where I resumed my train-spotting hobby. My colleagues also had publications about car numbers and explained that EW was the local index for Huntingdonshire. I realised that the majority of vehicles in the area had this mark.

After learning the neighbouring indices of Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Bedfordshire, my interest was born.

We then moved to North-East Scotland and, whilst waiting outside Aberdeen railway station for the RAF staff car to convey us to our new home in Peterhead (officers’ perks, old boy!), I was eagerly spotting dozens of RS and RG registrations, which were issued to the city. Driving north to Peterhead, the county indices SA and AV became more numerous. At this time a decision was

made to learn all the indices printed in the AA book, so I have now committed the 600 original index marks to memory.

In 1974, new legislation substituted 180 local authority motor taxation offices with 81 local vehicle licensing offices, resulting in the re-allocation of some index marks. The majority remained, but others were transferred to other locations. For example, AA (Hampshire) went to Salisbury and AG (Ayrshire) to Hull.

Operating as a Llandudno licensed taxi proprietor, my travels throughout the UK are made more interesting by matching registration plates with the area that I am travelling through. Even without viewing destination or county signs, I am confident I could pinpoint my position to within 50 miles.

In my opinion, the most attractive plate design is that issued by the self-governing Isle of Man. Some years ago a completely new design was issued for Manx registered vehicles, with similar dimensions to those of the UK-style plates. The main differences are, the smaller characters (separated by mandatory hyphens between the letters and numbers), a pillar box red panel situated on the extreme left, displaying the IOM national symbol, the trieske (The 3 Legs of Man) and beneath it, the letters GBM. A choice of place name e.g. Isle of Man, Ellan Vannin or Mannin, can be inserted above the characters to display national identity.

New legislation, in April 2004, allowed larger characters and the recently introduced UK plate design was authorised for Manx registered vehicles. Hyphens became mandatory on any plate after September 2004. It is interesting that, white or silver characters on a black plate are still legal on the Island, but only only vehicles manufactured before 1 September 1990.
As all Manx plates have a combination of MN or MAN, personal plates do not exist, although Island resident comedian Norman Wisdom did possess NMN 16 on his vehicle.

Dave Packer Llandudno

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