Who can still recall these old car number plates?

Austin car on Paarl Mountain, c1930s (Photograph donation by C Rossouw, now part of the Gribble Collection)

Many Paarl cars still use the CJ prefix. This photograph of an Austin car was taken on Paarl Mountain in the 1930s (C Rossouw, Gribble Collection)

Some trivial information, but a great guessing game for car lovers. Who can still match these number plates to towns in the Cape Province. Some prefixes are still recognisable, while others have since changed. The list is an extract for an article printed in the Paarl Post on 17 February 1923.

Cape Town (C.A.), Aliwal North (C.AE.), Venterstad (C.ACo.), Beaufort West (C.AI.), Bredasdorp (C.AK.), De Aar (C.ALo.), Caledon (C.AM.), Calvinia (C.AN.), Carnarvon (C.AO.), Ceres (C.AQ.), Clanwilliam (C.AR.), Fraserburg (C.AV.), Williston (C.AVo.), George (C.AW.), Graaff Reinet (C.AZ.), Port Elizabeth (C.B.), Hope Town (C.BE.), Laingsburg (C.BM.), Montagu (C.BR.), Namaqualand (C.BU.), Petrusville (C.BXo.), Sutherland (C.CJ.), Swellendam (C.CK.), Victoria West (C.CR.), Tulbagh (C.CM.), Worcester (C.I.) and Paarl (C.J).

For more about car licence plates, have a look at the following Wikipedia article.

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Paarl’s first car dealerships

Repair shop

© Gribble Collection, Drakenstein Heemkring

EJ Lawton Ltd was one of the first motorcar dealerships in Paarl. The company was based in Cape Town and advertised the opening of its Paarl branch on 22 July 1918. From the advertisement it was possible to deduce that they had bought up Mr GK Briers’ Elite Motor Works opposite the Royal Hotel in Main Street. The hotel was situated between Zeederburg Square and Zion Street. According to the advertisement, Nico Decker had been placed in charge of the dealership’s financial department. Lawton also had cars for hire.

In 1918 JN Hogkins, a mechanical engineering and motorcycle building company – “motor cycle repairs and pram wheels retyred while you wait” – ran an advertisement for a 1918 model “Indian”. The “Indian” was a motorcycle with a sidecar, and the new model’s arrival was described as “the event of the year” (PP 30.03.1918). A few months later Hogkins demonstrated the motorcycle’s ability, and proudly announced that it had successfully negotiated the Franschhoek Pass on the 3 February 1919 (PP 15.02.1919). The driver on this occasion was Mr N Decker, with Mr Curtis in the sidecar. Hogkins was situated in Lady Grey Street.

What is particularly interesting about the post WWI advertisements is the observation that a number of Paarl’s old wagon building firms had reinvented themselves as motorcar dealerships or were in related businesses. In 1929 Solomon, Reyneke & Kie in Main Street advertised themselves as wagon builders and undertakers (PP 13.04.1929), also see Carson & Co and Retief De Ville & Co listed below. Continue reading