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Jepson & Co Celebrates 130 Years

April, 22 2024 | James Russell

Our parent company, Jepson & Co, is celebrating a huge milestone this year as they hit their 130th anniversary.


Jepson & Co Celebrates 130 Years

As the UK’s (and probably the world’s) oldest number plate manufacturer, their story is fascinating, so we’ve decided to celebrate by sharing some of it with our customers. From humble beginnings to technological developments and a family story that makes the company unique, let’s start at the beginning.

The early years of Jepson & Co

Today, Jepson & Co is a mainstay in Sheffield manufacturing and well-known for their innovation and high standards. Merging traditional craftsmanship with modern technology, the 65-strong team embodies Sheffield’s industrial spirit. But where did it all start for this iconic British organisation?

Jepson & Co was founded as a sign company in 1894 by Mr George Henry Jepson, at a sweets and tobacco shop at 54 Division Street, Sheffield 1, where he lived. However, change was afoot in 1903 when the Motor Act was introduced, which dictated that motor vehicles were required to have registrations that identified the vehicle.

As a result of the new legislation, in 1905, Jepson & Co were called on to handwrite registration numbers, using white letters and figures on the wings and honeycomb radiators of motor vehicles. Fast forward five years to 1910 and Jepson & Co was officially registered with Companies House, specialising in number plates, signs, lettering, and posters.

Original Jepson & Co Logo

Expansion was on the cards for the next few decades, with a move to larger premises in 1930 as the company grew from strength to strength. In 1939, at the start of the Second World War, the company halted normal business to assemble metal helmets for frontline troops, demonstrating a national pride that would be consistent over the years that followed.

Post-war expansion

As the world entered the “swinging sixties”, the number plates of Great Britain also experienced change, with the 7th registration digit being introduced. This additional digit meant that lettering had to be reduced to fit onto number plates, which resulted in more innovation and growth for Jepson & Co.

A decade later in 1973, reflective number plates became mandatory on UK vehicles, which was a transition from black and silver registrations of the past. Once again, Jepson & Co led the charge for this legislative change and became specialists in the production of the brand-new reflective registrations.

Photo from the 70s of Jepson & Co storefront

Another decade of success passed and in 1985, Jepson & Co started making number plate kits, so customers could start printing number plates themselves. This, like most milestones in the company’s history, showed their commitment to their customers and the quality of goods they produced.

A new millennium for Jepson & Co

As the company grew to greater heights, 2008 saw Peter Jepson, great-grandchild of founder, George, become chairman of the company. This brought with it rapid, consistent expansion for Jepson & Co for the years that followed.

A historic, recent moment for the company came when COVID-19 struck the world in 2020 and Jepson & Co sprang into action with a range of modular sneeze guards. These were a helpful tool against the virus and as a result, were featured on the BBC and won Make UK’s regional innovation award.

In addition, 10% of profits from the sneeze guards went to Food4Heroes in 2021, in keeping with their ethos as a company.

Blending historical heritage and modern technology

Today, Jepson & Co turns over circa £15 million a year and has 65 employees on the books, many of whom have been with the company for over 20 years. What’s more, women make up over 40% of the employees, which is three times the UK average.

Jepson & Co pressing department

And while the company has a rich history within Sheffield, the technology is incredibly advanced, with a state-of-the-art factory established in 2024. This factory holds a dual-natured purpose and exemplifies the history of the company as well as the innovation that makes the business so special.

A prime example of the high-tech, cutting-edge company Jepson & Co has evolved into is the use of PlateSync software. This syncs number plate records to the cloud automatically, simplifying record-keeping and keeping registrations in line with DVLA regulations and standards. PlateSync can also print a variety of number plate sizes when connected to a suitable printer, like the printers at Jepson & Co, and can be updated with new templates such as trailer registration formats.

Listing all the incredible technology used by Jepson & Co Ltd would take all day, but it’s worth mentioning the use of Swiss Q printing technology that ensures the perfect resolution, colour accuracy, and incredible precision. Jepson & Co’s advanced laser cutting tech is also noteworthy and enables the printing of high-quality registrations in seconds, which can include coloured borders, artwork, and black digits to suit customer requirements.

Jepson & Co closeup of 3D number plate digits

As a result of these technological capabilities, Jepson & Co can print every variation of number plate styles, such as premium 3D digits, vintage black and silver registrations and showroom plates. They also provide a range of accessories like flag stickers and number plate fastenings like self-tapping screws, nuts and bolts, and adhesive pads.

Jepson & Co raised riveted white classic number plate

Because of this fantastic innovation and their incredible workmanship, Jepson & Co has won the prestigious Make UK Innovation Award (Yorkshire and Humber) and Made in Sheffield Manufacturer of the Year awards.

They’ve also been featured on BBC Look North, BBC Radio Sheffield, and Salvage Hunters Classic Cars, which demonstrates the commitment, expertise, and skill of Jepson & Co’s “Women and Men of Steel”.

Jepson & Co staff with as seen on TV sign

Some words from Peter Jepson

Peter Jepson, great-grandson of founder, George Henry Jepson, still sits at the helm of this historic company and has overseen massive growth in his tenure. Reflecting on the significant 130th anniversary of this much-loved, family-run business, he had these words:

“When I reflect that our business has gone from a 'man-and-a-paint-can' working alone to hand paint numbers onto colliery wagons to a group with £15 million turnover supplying ¼ of the AM100, it’s been a fantastic journey. And, of course, we’ve been Sheffield-based and a family company all the way.”

Peter Jepson – Jepson & Co Director.

Where to buy private number plates

Jepson & Co is National Numbers’ official parent company, so when you order physical number plates through our website, they’re provided by this historic company. By working together, we’re able to provide a unique service to our customers, and as one of the oldest number plate dealers in the UK, we’re a perfect fit.

To find a private reg that works for you, visit the National Numbers website. You can also give our sales team a call on 01642 363738.

To find out more about the most experienced number plate manufacturer in the country, if not the world, check out Jepson & Co.

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