London’s long battle with parking …

Parking spaces  in London are at a premium, so it is perhaps appropriate that the city is often led the way in the world of parking. For instance:

The world’s first multi-storey car park opened on Denman Street, off Piccadilly, in 1901. With an electric lift, seven floors and 19,000 square feet (1765 sq. ml of space, it was then also the world’s biggest car park.

In 1958 Britain’s first parking meters were installed in Grosvenor Square, Mayfair. Three years later they were modified with spring-loaded mountings so that they could withstand abuse from outraged drivers.

On the other side of town, meanwhile, 1961 also saw the opening of the ‘Autostacker’ in Woolwich, south-east London. This was a completely automated multi-storey car park, which could park 256 cars by conveyor belts, lifts and remote control. It cost £2100,000 to build but closed just a year later, after all efforts had failed to make it work properly. Greenwich Council then spent 260,000 demolishing it.

.. although Hastings was well ahead in the 1930s

*The world’s first municipal car park opened in the United States in Flint, Michigan, in 1924, but it was Hastings Council in Sussex that — literally — broke new ground seven years later by opening the world’s first underground car park. It’s at Carlisle Parade and is still operating today.

Since traffic and congestion have become a major problem, the capital is seeing a re-emergence of smaller cars and vans, with electric cars having the advantage of not having to pay congestion. Smaller vehicles are easier to park!