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Chauffeuring in the Beginning

We thought this would be a fun piece to include!

The first recorded employment of a chauffeur dates back to 1884, when the Honourable Evelyn Ellis hired a driver for his newly acquired Panhard. The driver spent six weeks at the Panhard factory before they embarked on an ambitious and successful tour of the continent.

“Surely the average coachman had enough intelligence to do the same and would find no difficulty in adapting himself to the new order of things when this method of locomotion becomes more common,” wrote Evelyn Ellis.

Sadly, such a transition did not take place, head coachman proudly conservative of their positions were fearful of these new ‘motor car’ contraptions. Who in their right minds would surrender the esteem and importance of their employment in control of a magnificent turn of sleek horses in exchange for a seat behind a mechanical horse with its exploding gas?

Moreover, what if the gas stopped exploding? It might be all right for a young groom or a stable lad to take on this new role but certainly it was well beneath the dignity of coachman!

The majority of motor car owners choosing not to drive and maintain their cars themselves had to look elsewhere for suitable candidates. While ‘motoring’ was still in its infancy it was relatively easy to employ a ‘driver’ from the country where the motor car was built. However once cars began to be manufactured in England, the supply of capable foreigners fell far short of demand. Men capable of becoming chauffeurs had therefore to be sought nearer to home.

Mindful of the necessary skills required, many car owners turned to the least promising place, the servant’s hall, for suitable candidates rather than look elsewhere. From this large pool of employees, sensible owners reasoned that young men with natural mechanical ability and an adventurous spirit could develop the required driving and maintenance skills through training at the factory in the few months before the car was delivered.

Thus began a new breed of driver – the chauffeur – soon to derive an equivalent status with his predecessor, the coachman!