2nd September 1939. Taking The Driving Test.

Before 1934, a year of record road fatalities, anyone over 17 could drive a car or motor-cycle. The government decided to take action especially bearing in mind rising car ownership.

It resulted in a parliamentary bill by Minister of Transport, Leslie Hore-Belisha and the Road Traffic Act which re-introduced the 30 mph speed limit, abolished in 1930, and introduced the Driving Test.(1)


1934 car year of test.

1934 car in year of Test.

Red cover 1930. superseded sulphur yellow issued 1903.

Red  Licence Cover 1930. This superseded a sulphur-yellow colour, issued in 1903, which entitled one to drive a car or motor-cycle.








Driving Tests initially came in voluntarily on March 13th 1935 to ease the pressure on applications and became compulsory on June 1st 1935 for those who started driving on or after 1st April 1934. There was a pass rate of 63%.

Now ‘L Plates’ were compulsory with the licence to be renewed every three years.

Five years after the Act Today in 1939, with war imminent, the Car Test was suspended, in the event until November 1946, with the HGV Licence and Test suspended on the first of January 1940.

Now many Driving Examiners were to join the ranks of officialdom as supervisors of war-time fuel rationing.

Post-war in February 1947, a one year time-scale was given to war-time holders of Provisional Licences to convert to full licences without passing a test.

Driving Tests were again to be disbanded in the 1956 Suez crisis when examiners were needed to administer petrol rationing.(2)



R. Beere of Kensington/

R. Beere of Kensington, London, the first to pass a Driving Test in UK. Certificate No.0001.

The first to pass the Test was Mr Beere and cost him 7/6d, equivalent to about £15 today. In 1956  the cost was raised to £1. In 2016 it was £85 which included the theory test.

By 1976 69% of males and 29% females had a licence: in 2010 80% of males and 66% females. By July 1996 candidates were expected to pass a theory test.





(1) Leslie Hore-Belisha after whom the original crossing Belisha-Beacons were named. The Act’s Royal Assent was granted on 31st July 1934.

(2) Suspended between 24.11.1956-15.4.1957.



autoexpress/Pic of Red Licence.

gov.uk/history-of-driving-test/Pic of Licence.


dailymail.co.uk/How the British fell in Love with the Car/ Juliet Gardiner. 1.2.2010/Pic of Car.

roadmaster.uk/Pic of Mr Beer.


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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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