UK’s oldest driving school celebrates 80th anniversary of compulsory driving tests

LD
Written by
Luke Davies
1st of April, 2014

The UK’s oldest driving school is celebrating the 80th anniversary of the compulsory driving test with an appeal for motoring memorabilia.

Anyone who started driving 80 years ago today (01/04/1934) had to take the compulsory driving test when it was brought in on June 1st 1935.

BSM, which launched in 1910, helped the government develop this first compulsory driving test and the examiners were initially drawn exclusively from BSM staff.

The first test cost just 7 shillings 6d and lasted only half an hour. Old video footage also gives an insight into early driving tests, like this one http://ow.ly/9YqG8 created in 1935.

The pass rate for the test was 63% and around 246,000 candidates applied to take it.

The first person to pass their test was a BSM pupil, Mr Stanley Beere, on March 16th 1935. His name is often reported as Mr Beene due to confusion around the handwriting on the certificate (see image).

Because of its rich history and unique place in the heart of the UK’s motoring story, BSM has created many interesting historical items. But over the years many of these branded items from BSM’s history have left the company’s ownership.

It is believed these items include original BSM ‘L’ plates and driving simulators from the early 1900’s, as well as old training manuals, documents and photographs.

An appeal in 2012 brought some items back to the company including an original certificate of motoring competence from 1917 as well as a 1935 driving manual.

Mark Peacock, head of BSM, said: “We were really encouraged by the results of the last appeal for memorabilia and hope that this time we will be just as fortunate.

“BSM was instrumental in developing the driving test 80 years ago and if anyone has any items specifically relating to this it would be great to know where they are so we can log them in our archive.

“We’d also really love to hear from anyone who knows Mr Beere / Beene, it would be great to hear how our first learner got on after he passed his test.

“It’s amazing to think how much the driving test has changed in the last 80 years, not to mention the roads, cars and how we teach people to drive.

“Technology has played a big part in this, helping make cars safer, and I think we will continue to see this develop.”

Anyone with items they think may be of interest to the BSM memorabilia amnesty should email amnesty@bsm.co.uk

Images of items sent in, and of those already in BSM’s archive, will be tweeted every Thursday from @BSM_driving using #BSMthrowbackthursday

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