June 15th, 2020 at 5:54 pm
There is a company you have probably never heard of whose claim to fame is that they are the oldest number plate makers in the UK and they are called Jepson & Co.
Something of an industry specialist for modern 3D raised number plates and other cutting edge designs, where it all began in 1894 is a world away. Jepson & Co started life as a sign writing company in Sheffield as in 1894 at a time when the motor car was only just starting to make a very small scale appearance. By 1904 however, the fledgeling motor industry was growing and looking for number plate makers. Jepson’s added number plates to their thriving business and the rest, as they say, is history. The earliest number plates were hand-painted, white characters on a black background.
In 1910. Jepson’s purchased a lithographic printing machine which allowed the company to increase manufacture in terms of numbers. They were able to produce embossed brass individual letters and figures which could then be applied to a baseboard and this meant Jepson’s could significantly increase their production. Eventually, Jepson’s introduced their own range of embossed aluminium number plates and the hand-written plate was no more. It was also at this time that Jepson’s began to develop an export market and started shipping their number plates across the globe. South Africa was one of its earliest export destinations.
The next development was in 1925 when the printing process changed and the number plates were printed onto celluloid instead of tin plate. The same machine was used, it was just a change of material. Number plates were not Jepson’s sole source of income; they also made notices for mines and factories and shop window tickets as there would not have been sufficient motor trade at this point to keep them in business.
During the Second World War, the trade for number plates inevitably dwindled amongst the general public as petrol was rationed and those people who had cars, mothballed them in garages and barns. Jepson’s used their expertise to help the war effort – something they had also done in the first war – and assembled steel helmets for the troops using the skills and machinery they used to make number plates.
Boom time for number plates came after the war in the 1950s and 1960s as motor traffic increased enormously with much greater vehicle production and cars became more affordable for the general public. Jepson’s stepped up to the plate and developed an advanced stove enamelling procedure which they combined with conveyor belt production, considerably reducing the time taken to make each plate which saw a corresponding uplift in production. Jepson’s produced their own plates as well as around 1,000 blanks which could be sold to their motor customers ready for hand riveting at their premises. By now number plates were in the trademark black and silver which is so collectable in the 21st century.
In 1976, as motor production increased, the company moved to larger premises where they still remain today. By the 1970s, number plates were being produced on acrylic which is, of course, reflective rather than the old-style pressed aluminium. And Jepson’s today? Jepson’s continue to innovate as the staggering range of modern materials which even a decade ago were unthinkable, couple with state of the art printing technologies allowing Jepson’s to continue to design and innovate and remain at the forefront of number plate design. The demand for specialist and outstanding plates does not diminish.
Jepson’s are always keen to push the boundaries whilst remaining within the letter of the law. They have created self-adhesive 3D acrylic digits which are 3 mm thick and of the highest quality and attached with a secure and durable bonding agent to create the ultimate in raised style number plates. Jepson’s operate the highest levels of quality control whilst continuing to innovate and provide motorists with the latest styling and design for their number plates.
For vintage enthusiasts, as you might expect with such an illustrious heritage spanning over a century in the motor trade, Jepson’s also make classic and retro plates for all vehicles manufactured forty-plus years’ ago so currently, any car pre-1980. There is a thriving trade in the old style black and silver number plates although cars from the 1970s would not have had this style of plates. With their historical knowledge, Jepson’s can advise on the correct style of plate for an older car whether it is a 1980 model or something even earlier. Their archive information can faithfully replicate the correct styling down to the last detail.
Vehicles aged 40 years or older can become eligible for the exemption to stop paying vehicle tax, however, your must still apply to tax the vehicle even if the chargeable rate is zero which does sound a bit counter-intuitive but the vehicle must remain within the system. You may not know when the vehicle was actually built but if you can demonstrate that it was registered pre 1980 then you can also apply and will not have to pay. This categorisation includes cars, van, motorcycles and tricycles. There are exceptions to this where tax is still levied and due and these include:-
- Vehicles used for hire and reward, for example, vintage cars for wedding companies
- Vehicles used for a trade or business
As well as the exemption from Vehicle Excise Duty, you also do not need to present the car for MOT but there is still an overarching statutory duty to keep the car in roadworthy condition even without the MOT. If the vehicle is found to be in an unroadworthy condition then you could face a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points on your licence.
If you are having new plates made, particularly with raised or 3D characters, it always pays to use a reputable and experienced plate maker as they will be able to keep you road legal and provide the eye-catching plates you have always coveted without breaking the law.