Old driving licence - a little red book

  • Marc's Avatar
    Community Manager
    While helping to clear out a relative's loft the other day, I came across my grandfather's old driving licence.

    I'd never seen one like this before. It's a little red book.

    Photographed next to a 10p coin for scale
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    Anyone else remember these?
    Inside there's a page of regulations, and a series of stamped receipts (which I guess are licence renewals).
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    At the back there's space for convictions. He was fined £10 in 1968 for "double white lines" which I assume means he crossed them.
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    Knowing the sort of bloke he was, he would have despised having the conviction, more so than the fine.

    Anyways, hope it's of interest!
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  • 13 Replies

  • Mark07's Avatar
    Community Manager
    I love this, it's almost like a driving passport. The idea of handwritten notes seems so alien to me.

    When did they scrap these?
  • NMNeil's Avatar
    That was just like my very first drivers license. Wonderful memories but the shocking reminder that I'm very very old.
  • Beelzebub's Avatar
    That was just like my very first drivers license. Wonderful memories but the shocking reminder that I'm very very old.
    Me too - I passed in 1967.

    I believe they were replaced by paper licences fairly soon afterwards - 1970-ish.
  • NMNeil's Avatar
    From memory I passed my motorcycle test in 1969, and I did it on a 750 Norton Commando.
    Heady days.
  • Drivingforfun's Avatar
    My Dad has a paper license and hasn't had to send it in for any reason (they send back a modern credit card license if you do that) so he still has it...When someone crashed into him recently and a very young police officer asked to see his license, she didn't know what to make of it, apparently she had never seen a paper license!!
  • TC1474's Avatar
    My Dad has a paper license and hasn't had to send it in for any reason (they send back a modern credit card license if you do that) so he still has it...When someone crashed into him recently and a very young police officer asked to see his license, she didn't know what to make of it, apparently she had never seen a paper license!!

    I still have my first paper licence issued in 1974.

    The first paper licence was all green, then they changed to green and pink and then the photo licence was introduced with the paper counterpart before that was dropped as well.

    A lot of people are still surprised when they are told that the paper licence is still valid until the age of 70, they assume you only have a valid licence if you have a photo card

    What many people did not realise, was that is anyone other than a Police officer or a court asked to see your counterpart they committed an offence as nobody was authorised or permitted to look at the counterpart other than those to officials.

    Even car rental firms were not entitled to see it. Caused lots of fun for us in the job back in the day.

    Of course with the introduction of computer technology it all changed.
  • Drivingforfun's Avatar
    @TC1474

    I didn't know that about asking to see the license, very interesting!!!

    Is the offence committed by asking or by actually looking?

    My Dad was in the police (a DC) and once got into a heated debate with one of those "freeman of the land" types who know their rights and things. She demanded to see my Dad's warrant card because she wanted to take a photo of it - apparently it's illegal to reproduce a warrant card and he could have had some fun there, but I don't know whether that's in fact the law or not
  • NMNeil's Avatar
    Had much the same problem when I started as a police officer. They wanted a copy of my naturalization papers (Show's that I'm a US citizen) and right on the front of it is words to the effect , "Federal law prohibits the copying of this document without lawful authority"
    And as a sidenote on the early UK license, you were told not to carry it with you, instead, if you were stopped, the police gave you a 'producer' and you got to tell the officer which police station you would be 'producing' your documents.
    How things have changed.
  • TC1474's Avatar
    @TC1474

    I didn't know that about asking to see the license, very interesting!!!

    Is the offence committed by asking or by actually looking?

    It was both, but the offence has now by and large been disregarded since they stopped issuing the counterpart.

    It is not asking to see the licence that was the offence, it was asking to see the counterpart
  • Rolebama's Avatar
    My 'little red book' was issued in 1967 by the LVLO in Mold, Flintshire. A few Met Police had me at Police Stations because I looked too young to ride a motorcycle and/or they had never heard of Mold.
  • Drivingforfun's Avatar
    Speaking of being too young I read that you can learn to drive in the UK at 16 if you are disabled, in order to equalise with non-disabled 16 year olds who are able to ride a scooter

    Is there any data anywhere on how many 16 year olds actually hold a car license? And I wonder how much insurance for a 16 year old would cost

    No reason for asking other than curiosity
  • Mark07's Avatar
    Community Manager
    Interesting, I didn't know that.
  • TC1474's Avatar
    Speaking of being too young I read that you can learn to drive in the UK at 16 if you are disabled, in order to equalise with non-disabled 16 year olds who are able to ride a scooter

    Is there any data anywhere on how many 16 year olds actually hold a car license? And I wonder how much insurance for a 16 year old would cost

    No reason for asking other than curiosity

    You are correct to a point but the law is quite specific in that, if you are on, or have applied for the advanced mobility aspect of PIP (Personal Independence Payment) or DLA (Disability Living Allowance) you are allowed to drive when you're 16. However, all the other usual rules still apply to you, so you will still need a valid provisional licence in order to legally drive, take lessons and formally pass the driving test.

    According to Government statistics as of 2024, there are currently 632 16 year old male full car licence holders and 72 16 year old female full car licence holders

    However, no figures are available for the average insurance premiums, but I would imagine that is probably a deal in place with the likes of Motability to look after such drivers.