When I was growing up in the 1940s and 1950s, most car owners seemed to
belong to the AA (the Automobile Association) to help them in the event of
breakdown, etc. Their cars sported a badge to prove it. Probably this came
free with membership.
The AA man's motor bike
A man from the AA, touring the roads to offer help to
motorists. An enhanced screenshot from an old film.
Detail of the AA man. An enhanced screenshot from an
Men from the AA would drive around on motorbikes with yellow sidecars, which
presumably held various tools and maps. There seemed to be plenty of them,
as we always seemed to see one on every road journey. We
never needed one, but I suppose that if we had and if we were nowhere near a
public phone, we would have had to rely on an AA man just coming by. We
probably wouldn't have had to wait long, provided that we were not in the
depths of the country.
AA public telephone boxes
At strategic points along main roads and at junctions there were AA telephone boxes at
the roadside. (There were of course no motorways.) Members were provided
with a key to get into the box and phone for help from there.
AA men's uniforms
AA men wore brown uniforms with helmets.
AA car badges
AA man saw a car with an AA badge on it, he would salute the driver. AA
badges were usually attached somewhere on the front of the car either on the
radiator or above the bonnet.
An AA phone box, photographed in Amberley Heritage Museum. AA members were provided with keys for these boxes to summon help from an AA man.
An AA badge for attaching to the front of a car to show membership
of the AA. Note the membership number embossed at its base.
The competition - The RAC
An RAC badge for attaching to the front of a car to
show membership of the Royal Automobile Association.
The RAC (the Royal Automobile Club) was a similar organisation. Yet it must
have been smaller because I don't remember seeing any RAC men on the roads.
My mother always gave the impression that it was for more affluent motorists
than us - but that was the sort of thing she always said.