History

The AA has been around for over 100 years and was formed on 29June 1905 when a group of motoring enthusiasts met at the Trocadero restaurant in London's West End. This group was initially intended to champion the cause of the motorist and particularly to help motorists avoid police speed traps. As motoring became more popular, so did we - the AA's 100 members in 1905 grew to 83,000 by 1914. As AA membership expanded, so did our activities.

Today, the AA is the largest breakdown cover organisation in the UK. Other services and products we provide include: car insurance, maps, travel guides, campsite guides, home insurance, savings accounts, smart phone and tablet apps and home emergency breakdown cover. Here are some of the key points in our history.

1905 - 1910

In 1906 the AA began to erect the country's first effective danger and warning signs, and we've been committed to promoting road safety ever since. In 1907 the AA offered members a car insurance policy - 23 years before it became a legal requirement.

AA patrol group members 1909

1910

We introduced the first AA routes around 1910 with handwritten details and by 1929 we were issuing 239,000 routes a year. In 2010 we hit 1 billion! The AA has always produced routes and travel guides, a business activity that has grown rapidly in recent years. From 1912 the AA also started to inspect hotels, and those receiving the AA's famous star classification were included in subsequent editions of the 'Members' Handbook'.

Today we inspect and rate more than 7,000 hotels and bed and breakfast establishments each year and review over 2,000 restaurants, publishing the results in a series of annual guides.

Early AA motorbike assistance bike 1910 - 1920

1920s - 1950s

By 1939, 2 million cars were on UK roads and 725,000 motorists had joined the AA.

After the Second World War, we led the protest against petrol rationing, which was finally lifted in 1950. It was a campaign that reflected our traditional role of championing motorists' rights.

Since that time the AA has led a number of major campaigns - including the compulsory wearing of seatbelts, which became law in 1983, and the introduction of unleaded petrol. In recent years, we have lobbied successive governments over unfair motoring taxes and the lack of investment in transport. The AA has always been innovative in harnessing new technology. The introduction of two-way radio after the Second World War saw the 1949 launch of a night-time breakdown service in the London area, which was gradually extended to cover most of Britain.

1946 AA signs and parking signs

1960s

We established the AA Insurance broking service in 1967. After a number of cut-price companies had crashed in the 1960s, motorists wanted absolutely secure motor insurance cover from an organisation they could trust - they turned to us in their thousands. Today, AA Insurance Services is the UK's largest independent motor and home broker.

An AA phonebox from 1960s

1970s

In October 1973, AA Relay was introduced, guaranteeing to transport any vehicle that could not be fixed at the roadside - together with driver, passengers, luggage and trailer or caravan - to any destination in Britain.

1970

1980s-1990s

In 1990, we launched the AA Driving School. It is the only national body to use fully qualified instructors and today employs more than 3,500 franchised instructors. In June 1999, we set a new standard for the breakdown and recovery industry and came first in the annual JD Power survey of 25,000 drivers.

A Piper Navajo AA plane from 1972

2000 - 2010

The 2000-2010 decade was a busy one in which we celebrated our centenary and were awarded numerous accolades from JD Power and Which? magazine.

All our patrols were issued with state-of-the-art roadside diagnostic equipment in 2003 enabling us to fix more vehicles at the roadside quicker. In July 2004 we introduced our industry-leading AA Telephone Savings Account.

On 1 October 2004 the AA left the Centrica group following its acquisition by two leading European private-equity firms - CVC and Permira.

In June 2006 a new company called Acromas was created bringing together the AA and Saga, two of the UK's strongest and most trusted brands.

We have continued to innovate and launched new products and services including Fuel Assist, the Special Operations Response Team (SORT) who use specially equipped vehicles to help in severe weather and are continuing to expand our suite of smartphone Apps.

The roadside team were kept extremely during the cold spells in 2009 and 2010. The AA's busiest day ever was 20 December 2010 when we attended more than 28,000 breakdowns.

We've also acquired businesses during this time including DriveTech, the UK's leading provider of driver training, assessment and driver awareness schemes and AutoWindshields, a glass repair and replacement service.

Modern AA Roadside Assistance Vans in 2000s

2010 onwards

More new products have launched including AA Home Emergency Response, which provides a network of approved tradesmen to deal with everything in the home from burst pipes to broken boilers, Key Assist and Battery Assist.

The AA's route planner is now 100 years old and we produced our 1 billionth route in July 2010 which equates to 125 billion miles - that's 5.5 million times around the world!

We purchased the BSM driving school in 2011 bringing together the UK's two biggest driving schools and saw a team of AA Driving School instructors tackle qualified drivers with serious driving problems in 'Dangerous Drivers' School' on Channel 5.

We are still winning awards for our breakdown service from Which? Magazine where we retained "Recommended Provider" status in the Breakdown Providers survey in both third party cover and carmaker-branded cover.

In the last year we have been proud to launch our Think Bike campaign, become the UK's most trusted brand and sponsor the 'Moving Motor Show' at the 2014 Goodwood Festival of Speed. Now a publicly listed company for the first time in our 105 year history, we are looking for even more opportunities to grow as a business and to provide the very best service to our Members and Customers across the UK.

Today AA roadside membership stands at around 15 million.

 

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