London drivers try to get to grips with Britain’s first parking meters

It costs HOW much? Black and white photos show London motorists trying to get to grips with Britain’s first parking meters in the 1950s

  • The first parking meters in Britain were installed in Mayfair’s Grosvenor Square in 1958
  • Black and white photographs from the time show a woman trying out the technology for the first time  
  • A traffic warden can be seen showing her how the technology works before she pays for her parking spot
  • Back then a one hour parking spot cost motorists six schillings, a far cry from today’s fee of £4.90 per hour 

Photos from more than six decades ago show Londoners getting grips with the country’s first ever parking meters.

The incredible black and white images, which have been recently unearthed, show a woman looking perplexed by the meter as she parks her car beside it in posh Mayfair.

She can be seen being assisted by a friendly traffic warden who explain how the technology works before she pays for her time in the parking spot.  

Photos from more than 1958 show Londoners getting grips with the country’s first every parking meters, installed in Grosvenor Square in Mayfair

Other images show the officer assisting other meter-shy motorists with using the payment service.

Meanwhile another photo shows a traffic warden booking a vehicle that has overstayed in Grosvenor Square and issuing them a ticket.

The first parking meters in Britain were installed in Mayfair’s Grosvenor Square in summer 1958, near where the US embassy’s old location.  

The black and white images, which have been recently unearthed, show a woman looking perplexed by the meter as she parks her car beside it in posh Mayfair


In another photo, a traffic warden explains how the technology works before she pays for her time in the parking spot

Back then, one-hour parking cost six shillings – which is worth £6.29 today – a far cry from today’s fee of £4.90 as regulated by the City of Westminster.

Fines for those who overstayed or failed to pay was just £2 – unlike today’s drivers who have to shell out £130 if they recieve a ticket. 

In 2007, Westminster City Council made the decision to scrap 2,000 parking meters in central London in favour of updated and cost-effect technology – a pay-by-phone system and a pay-and-display machine.

Back then, one-hour parking cost six shillings – which is worth £6.29 today – a far cry from today’s fee of £4.90 as regulated by the City of Westminster


The meter-shy motorist observes the new payment service before reaching into her bag for her six shillings to pay

At the time, the Telegraph reported that the council calculated they were loosing £100,000 because thieves were breaking into the meters. 

The switch to digital also meant that traffic wardens were given updated tech.

Instead of filling out a paper infringement with a pen, they were issued with tablet devices to fill out forms. 

Meanwhile another photo shows a traffic warden booking a vehicle that has overstayed in Grosvenor Square and issuing them a ticket

The parking meter was invented by Carl Magee, a lawyer from Oklahoma City in the USA, with the first being installed in his hometown in July 1935.

The first models of parking meter needed wound up with a key, in the 1970s self-winding meters were introduced.

By the 1990s they were deemed unreliable and were replaced with electronic ones. Now many meters are solar-powered.

Fines for those who overstayed or failed to pay was just £2 – unlike today’s drivers who have to shell out £130 if they recieve a ticket

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