If you passed your driving test after 1st January 1997 like me then you can only drive Category B vehicles up to 3.5 Tonnes, our Bürstner motorhome with accessories and additional capacity needed to go travelling for a year is 4.25T. If you passed before 1997 your licence includes category C1 provision which automatically entitles you to drive up to 7.5T (which Karen’s did). Our options were that Karen is the only driver for the duration of our travels, which was probably a little unfair or I trained for a higher licence! So we agreed I had to obtain C1 entitlement which requires taking a medical, HGV theory test, hazard perception test and then a 3 day driver training and test in a large van up to 7.5T OR as I discovered for a little more expense and effort you can train to drive a category C HGV and if successful after 4 days training with driving test on the 5th day you can get an HGV Cat C licence allowing you to drive a truck with no upper weight limit.
Well I am always up for a challenge and being born in the 1970s and brought up on classic trucking films like Smokey and The Bandit, Every Which Way But Loose and Convoy which usually was followed by my mates and I tearing around the estate on our bikes ‘’shouting 10-4 rubber duck you got smokey on your tail, we got ourselves a convoy!’’ I had no choice but to get a proper HGV licence and drive big trucks!
Having passed the medical and theory elements and armed with my Class C provisional licence I began contacting several HGV training companies discovering not all were equal, many of the companies at the top of a Google search were in fact brokers (sales people) and did not actually own a vehicle, they make a not insignificant fee for placing you with a local training company who own the vehicles.
I discovered British HGV (based in Cannock) through my searches and found them to be knowledgeable and honest about my expectations at a reasonable price and there was a course available the following Monday with my test on the Friday in Shrewsbury.
This is the lorry I did my training and took my test in. The only disappointment was it didn’t have a CB or chain to pull for the horn!
My trainer for the week was a lovely bloke called Alan, he had the patience of a saint and took a lot of time teaching and reteaching me the practical and observational skills required when driving a large vehicle. Mirrors, mirrors and then more mirrors.
Alan and Sue at British HGV, I would not hesitate to recommend them as a training provider and HGV instructor should you fancy a career change or like me because you need to (or possibly tick one off your childhood bucket list, but don’t tell the wife). http://www.britishhgv.co.uk/
Test Day Friday 8th June
When I pulled in to the test centre in Shrewsbury I did question myself as to why I didn’t take the C1 test knowing in the event of me failing there would be ‘discussions’ between Karen and I meaning I would have been retaking the test in a van (she didn’t understand why I didn’t just do the minimum required in the first place!) So failure was not an option…
After the mandatory examiner test questions and reversing into a loading bay we set out around the roads of Shrewsbury for my 1 hour test, which seemed to fly by. On our return we pulled up in the test centre and there was a long pause as the examiner counted up my minor faults, I felt like a contestant on a talent show, AND THE WINNER / WHO WILL BE LEAVING US THIS WEEK IS / IS NOT YOU…………………PAUSE……………Mr Trace you have passed your Class C HGV test! Relief would be an understatement.
So my licence is with the DVLA and when it returns stamped Category C we will be setting off on our travels once I have had the CB and horn chain installed😊