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Here is a photo of my late father (passed away earlier this month 🙁) driving a tractor:

Tractor

The registration is:

MWV714

Dad would have been driving this tractor in Wiltshire, England. I had a look at this website where it states:

1973 - M

Am I correctly assuming that this is a M registration vehicle? Given the fact my father left working on a farm in November 1974 it would put this photo in the time period 1973 - 1974.

Can anyone shed more light on understanding vehicle registrations from this time period?

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No, this isn't an M registration vehicle. The 'M' for the registration year was at the end of the number (e.g. 'URX 465M'). The tractor shown in the photograph would have been registered before 1963.

From the page on Suffix Registrations, linked from the article you cited,

"Prior to 1963, registration marks were dateless".


We can, however, narrow the date at which the tractor was registered a little.

From the Wikipedia page on Vehicle registration plates of the United Kingdom we see that:

The first series of number plates was issued in 1903 and ran until 1932, consisting of a one- or two-letter code followed by a sequence number from 1 to 9999.

and that

By 1932, the available codes were running out, and an extended scheme was introduced. This scheme placed a serial letter before the code, and had the sequence number run only to 999, thus restricting the number of characters in a registration to six.


So it appears that the tractor in the picture was registered between 1932 and 1962.

It may be possible to narrow the date still further if you have an idea of where the tractor might have been registered (indicated by WV in this case), but as the Wikipedia article makes clear, this can often be a non-trivial task as subsequent codes

"... were allocated on a first come first served basis."


For Wiltshire, it looks like the early registers of vehicle registrations are held by the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, who have a blog article titled Early Motor Vehicle Registration in Wiltshire on their website which you might find of interest.

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  • Very informative, thank you. – Andrew Truckle Jan 29 at 14:16
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    I had a reply from the history Center: Thank you for your enquiry. It is listed as first registered in document ref. F3/500/31, a ledger for newly registered vehicles in the county. This gives A. Brewer & Company as the supplier and Colonel F.N. Jeans (or it could be Jones as it is difficult to read) of Manor Farm, Fisherton de la Mere. The date of first registration is 29.9.1955. The vehicle is a ‘Fordson’. – Andrew Truckle Jan 31 at 13:08
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    @AndrewTruckle Glad you were able to track it down. :) – sempaiscuba Jan 31 at 13:19
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    @AndrewTruckle I think it is probably "Jeans". On the off-chance, I did a quick search on the name & address & found his name as Lt-Col F.N. Jeans of Fisherton de la Mere in a Met Office report on British Rainfall for 1949 (PDF file) He appears on p129. – sempaiscuba Jan 31 at 13:48
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    Yes. I have a reference letter from 1963 about dad and he is listed as a director. Cool! 😀 – Andrew Truckle Jan 31 at 16:07
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As @sempaiscuba says, this registration is pre-letter codes, and the pattern restricts it to 1930s to 1963.

However, you can get a bit closer from the tractor itself: a very quick image search shows that according to Country Life's article Top 5 vintage tractors it is a Fordson, introduced in 1952. So, sometime after 1952 (it doesn't look brand new) and 1963.

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    Hi, welcome to G&FH.SE! I've edited your answer to make the label for your linked source transparent instead of saying "this page". This allows the reader to see at a glance what you're citing instead of having to scroll over the link, and makes your answer more clear to people relying on screen reader. – Jan Murphy Jan 29 at 23:29
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    Hi @JanMurphy I think you meant “answer” in your comment.😀 – Andrew Truckle Jan 30 at 5:34
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    @AaronF No, my father left the company in 1963. I take your point that he might have been driving the tractor for another company (between 1963 - 1974) but having looked at photos of dad dad when he got married in 1963 I think we are in the right time period. – Andrew Truckle Jan 30 at 16:01
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    @AndrewTruckle Oops, I missed that. Fixed now. – Jan Murphy Jan 30 at 21:03
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    @BrianDrummond Thanks for letting me know --- would you like us to merge the two so this will appear under your old account? – Jan Murphy Jan 30 at 21:05

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