Launch of the Parking Meter
The parking meter was an American invention patented by Carl Magee in 1932, the first being fitted in his home town, Oklahoma City, in 1935. He was a local newspaper editor, a fact celebrated ever since by local rags around the world being unable to resist a lead story about the device.
Britain finally succumbed in 1958, with Parkeon installing the first, perhaps fittingly, outside the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square, Mayfair . It was unveiled on July 10 1958, and eight seconds later motorists began to gripe about it.
The cost was 6d per hour, with a fixed penalty fine of £2 for those unwilling to pay.
There has been considerable debate in recent years about the design merit of the early British meter. It was created by Kenneth Grange, a designer who also has Kodak cameras and Kenwood mixers to his credit. Grange's meter was sculptural, and became a part of the urban landscape to such an extent that it blended into invisibility unless you were parking a vehicle at one. A clockwork mechanism was used in the meter, wound with a large key, and though it was not infallible the system remained that way until the seventies.
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