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Homepage. This page: A prospectus describing the British School of Motoring Ltd's range of courses in Edwardian Britain.

The British School of Motoring in the Edwardian era.

The British School of Motoring Ltd, or BSM, is a regular sight on British roads, teaching hundreds of people how to drive each year, usually behind the wheel of a Vauxhall Corsa or new-style Fiat 500. The company though can trace its roots right back to 1910 when it was founded by a Mr Stanley Roberts, and this prospectus, describing the many different courses on offer to budding drivers and motor industry engineers, dates to that year. The embossed cover features the then-current BSM legend, which incorporated both a racing motor-car and a rudimentary aeroplane, not dissimilar to a Wright Flyer. For in 1910, BSM not only offered instruction in all aspects of the motor-car, they also had an Aerial Department, in addition to Sections focusing on Motor Boat Instruction, and another on Motor Cycling. This brochure though takes a look at the motor vehicle section, handled by their head office staff working out of Coventry House, on the corner of Rupert Street in London.
Drivers of the fairer sex were also encouraged to learn about the new-fangled motor-car, as private tuition for both Ladies and Gentlemen was on offer, so anyone "... requiring a thoroughly practical knowledge of the Motor Car and its management and also for those desirous of being trained for Responsible Positions in the Motor Industry" could well benefit from a visit to Coventry House in London.
BSM - British School of Motoring - learning to drive in 1910
BSM therefore offered far more than just training to members of the public, whether for private motoring or as a driving instructor. Hands-on training with regard to motor car repair, and its study, was available, perfect for any individual wishing to carve out a career in the rapidly-growing motor industry. By the time of this brochure being produced, they had already run a number of courses and glowing feedback from previous students appear throughout this tastefully-presented publication.
Anyone with an interest in motoring was encouraged to arrange a meeting with a BSM secretary, where the courses would be explained in greater detail, as would the opportunities for employment post-study be discussed. Home visits, in return for a small charge to cover out-of-pocket expenses, could also be handled, for any lady or gentleman who was unable to attend BSM's offices in person.
Car driving in 1910
The prospectus is packed with photographs describing the extensive facilities available to the BSM trainer. Some show the company's smartly-appointed offices, while others show keen students under instruction in the Lecture Room, side tables adorned with various vintage car components and cutaway engines. Rolling chassis were available whenever the subject of chassis design and maintenance came up for discussion, while repairs to such items could be demonstrated in the Turning Room, in the tyre vulcanising area, and in the practical Instruction Shops. Naturally, in addition to training aids, BSM had a fleet of motor vehicles on which students would learn their trade, or in the case of people simply wishing to drive for themselves, the art of driving. Cars featured include a chain-driven Martini tourer, a Brazier saloon (and possibly a touring version of same, being driven by a lady). A separate photograph reveals a varied line-up of other automobiles at their disposal.

Motoring as a pleasure.

Private tuition was available to ladies and gentlemen wishing to take up motoring as a pleasure. Essentially a practical course, it was split into two sections - Elementary and Advanced.
Elementary Mechanism was covered first, with practical demonstrations on actual cars, of differing horsepower. The principles of how an engine works, and the workings of the steering, suspension, drivetrain, electrics and tyres would be covered in great detail, empowering the student with "an intelligent interest" in this "delightful hobby".
Elementary Driving would then follow, initially in quiet thoroughfares, and later in traffic. In fact, not that dissimilar to how instruction is handled today ... in theory anyway:
"Special attention is given to teaching pupils to drive skilfully and to manipulate the gears delicately, silently, and at exactly the correct moment; to acquire the habit not only of driving, but of keeping a constant watch upon details such as water circulation, lubrication, tyres etc and in fact, all things that are so important in prolonging the life of a car."
"The owner of a car who possesses this knowledge not only derives far more pleasure from this healthy pastime, but feels no longer entirely in the hands of the chauffeur, and is able to save considerably on the running expenses and upkeep of his car by being in the position to distinguish well-trained drivers from others."
Advanced instruction on both Mechanism and Driving was also recommended, designed to enable the effecting of running repairs while out in one's horseless carriage, without recourse to outside assistance. A fully-stocked library would enable students to read up on all aspects of motor repair and maintenance. For a moderate charge, students could hire vehicles from the BSM to take on their own motoring adventures.

Training for positions in the Motor Industry.

Other courses were aimed at individuals hoping to take up employment in the motor industry, a rapidly growing sector in Britain at the time. The list of jobs that might be open to individuals completing BSM's training included buyers, sales, taxi-cab owner-operators, chauffeurs, lady chauffeurs in private service, inspectors, and mechanics, working for garages or motor car manufacturers, hood and screen manufacturers, body builders, dealers and public service, to name a few.
"The profession is, in fact, an ideal one for young gentlemen desiring a prosperous and high-grade social life without having to undergo the drudgery that professional men usually have to submit to during their lengthy careers as students."
"Many of the applications made at this Institution for trained Engineers, Buyers, Salesmen etc specify that a knowledge of French is required, and Car Owners applying for Private Chauffeurs frequently ask for men such as Ex-Gardeners, Valets, Coachmen or Clerks etc. Pupils, therefore, possessing experience in any of these or other callings should see that a note of such is entered on the BSM Employment Register."

Learn about motors with BSM.

The cost for a single driving lesson started at 7 shillings and sixpence, bearing in mind that a student could opt to either use their own car, or else one from BSM's fleet. Full Apprenticeship courses would cost from 15 Guineas upwards, while a course designed to train the individual in Vulcanising, using Harvey Frost equipment, started at 10 shillings sixpence.
Students who successfully completed a course of instruction, in whatever discipline(s) they chose to pursue, would receive a fine certificate at the end of their training. Testimonials provided by previous students complete this introduction to BSM's services in 1910, the following being a typical comment:
"I have much pleasure in informing you that I have obtained a situation to drive a Renault Car solely on the strength of the BSM Certificate."
Tuition regarding vintage cars in 1910
More items relating to the history of motoring may be found in the Motoring Collectibles section. This page features another BSM-related item, a leaflet describing the 1950s BSM "Prep Driver", a car control simulator and reactions tester.

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