Right from when I bought Plimsol back in November 2002, I knew PSL 193 wasn’t the original number.
Until shortly before then, the registration was KPR 108, as indicated by a bundle of old MoT certificates. I’ve recently found out considerably more.
Early in 2003 I contacted the DVLA to obtain details of the previous owners, sending £5 to the fee-paying enquiries desk. A handful of photocopies of old V5 forms came back, the earliest one stating that the person noted, a Mr Tidmarsh, was the first owner of KPR 108. This turned out to be well wide of the mark.
About the same time, I got in touch with the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust (BMIHT) at Gaydon to order a heritage certificate (these are now available in special Heritage document wallets that include a colour copy of a period brochure and a press photo).
This revealed that KPR 108 had originally been despatched to MH Tilley and Son of Dorchester, a vital piece of the puzzle. What I couldn’t understand was how a vehicle first registered in Dorset was sold to a ‘first owner’ based in Bicester, as the DVLA documents suggested.
I visited the Dorset Records Library, which I had learned holds the sales ledgers for MH Tilley and Son. I looked up the order for KPR 108 and found that its first owner was a Mr AC Davis of Cemetery Farm, Blandford, which proved the DVLA documents were incomplete.
Until six months ago, I got no further. Then I found a message on the Land Rover Series One Club (LRSOC) forum, sent in 2009; its anonymous writer had worked on KPR 108 in the 1970s and ’80s, but he never replied to my (admittedly belated!) response.
A few weeks later, while sorting out my tent at the Dunsfold Open Weekend, I had a surprise visitor – the writer of that forum post. Guy Pickford apologised for not replying to my message – and told me all sorts of details about work he’d done on my Series I.
He’d even kept copies of all the invoices for the work and agreed to pass them on to me. The earliest one is dated July 1, 1972 – just three months after Guy set himself up in business.
Encouraged by this, I tried a search on the LRSOC website, tapping in KPR 108 and finding three references to it in the club’s publications. They were all linked to Simon Forrester, who owned KPR 108 before the dealer who sold it to me.
One mention included an email address, so I got in touch. Simon agreed to pass even more invoices and receipts for KPR 108 on to me.
I now have a treasure trove of detailed information going back to July 1, 1972. Then there’s a massive gap back to that first owner in Dorset. Of course, it may be possible that there’s no gap between Mr Davis and Mr Tidmarsh. Guy is fairly sure that Mr Tidmarsh, who was in the military, may at one time have been based either at Blandford Camp or Tidworth Camp in neighbouring Wiltshire.
I’m extremely grateful to Guy, Simon and the BMIHT. I’m still looking for more information about KPR 108, so if you knew Mr Davis, Mr Tidmarsh, Mrs Erica Griffiths (née Tidmarsh) or Mr Roger Tidmarsh in connection with KPR 108, I’d love to hear from you (mark@LRO.com).