Ben Shaw Training was founded in 2005 to provide B+E car & trailer training when, in 1997, the DVLA no longer gave 'grandfather rights' to those passing their car driving test enabling them to drive B+E (car & trailer), C1 (rigids up to 7,500kg), and D1 (Minibus). Our first vehicle was an M-reg Mitsubishi Shogun (which was replaced after about 18 months with our first Kia, a 2004 Sorento), and an old Ifor Williams 505 Horse Trailer.
April 2006 saw us purchasing our first Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) training vehicle, a Scania 113 320hp rigid. This vehicle conformed with the new rules at the time that insisted on all LGV training vehicles having a gearbox that had at least 8 forward gears. It was difficult finding 8 speed 18 tonners, but this truck started out life as a tractor unit, and was stretched by a previous owner and converted to a rigid curtainsider. Although Ben loved this truck, it had a long wheelbase, making the cornering and the reversing exercise quite challenging!
In 2008 the recession hit, and lots of driver training schools (including Cargo Driver Training - who we used to hire an artic from) decided to call it a day and stopped trading. This posed a problem for us for our C+E training, leaving us with only the old 3 Series Scania rigid. The thought of buying a wagon and drag emerged when an offer we couldn't refuse for the old 3 Series to be exported to Tanzania materialised. In February 2009, we purchased an ex-Argos 2001 4 Series 94 Scania with a 8 speed manual gearbox, and drawbar trailer. This was perfect for us at the time, as the dual purpose vehicle was very cost effective as it could be used for category C training with the front part (the wagon), and easily used for C+E training by coupling up to the drawbar trailer (the drag). A lot of people criticise the use of wagon and drags for C+E (Class 1) training over the more common artic, but from a business point of view - for a small one man band business - it was perfect. (We still have this truck in our fleet today!).
Still in times of hardship, April 2009 saw us buy a brand new Ifor Williams 85 box trailer. (The old horse trailer had seen better days and really needed replacing). Although buying the wagon and drag, and the new box trailer was a financial burden at the time, as 2009 went on, business began to pick up and it felt really good to be able to crack on, confident that we had a the vehicles for the job.
Business was steadily busy for the next few years. Ben was happily plodding along. The Scania and drawbar trailer were working well. We replaced the 2004 Kia Sorento with a 2008 Kia Sorento. And the a couple of years later replaced that with a brand new 2012 Kia Sorento. Having a reliable car for the B+E training was very important. (Downtime with mechanical problems really can become quite costly, especially when it usually resulted in having to provide a free retest for customers).
January 2014 brought big changes to Ben Shaw Training. Fed up of working alone and from home, Ben took on a small office in a office building, and also trained up a new instructor, Ian Hargreaves. In April we increased our little fleet by buying a 2009 Volvo FM9 with the 12 speed I-Shift automatic gearbox. This truck was bought from DHL and had been used by Next as a wagon and drag to move demount bodies up and down the country to Next stores. This truck was perfect for us because not only was it exactly the same size as our existing Scania, and coupled up to our existing drawbar trailer perfectly, meaning it could also be used for C and C+E training courses, but it also took advantage of the new rules for test vehicles, whereby the industry no longer had to use an 8 speed manual vehicle, but could use absolutely any type of transmission, even automatic!
The 2012 Sorento got replaced with another brand new 2014 Sorento.
October 2014 saw Andrea Haworth take over the running of the office, and Ben's dad, Paul, become instructor number three.
July 2015 was when B+E instructor Julian Farrow joined the team. And in November 2015 we increased in size again with the purchase of a 2011 13 tonne DAF LF 6 speed auto, category C training vehicle.
Summer 2016 was when we made the decision to buy an extra B+E training vehicle to run along side the 2014 Kia Sorento and the 2009 Ifor Williams Box Trailer. We bought a 2016 Kia Sorento and a new Ifor Williams 511 Horse Trailer.
The vehicle purchasing didn't stop there in 2016... plans for another new truck was on the horizon. Now Ben has always had a theory that, as a training school, we'd need a least three rigid Cat. C training vehicles to keep one artic C+E vehicle busy. All wannabe truck drivers must first pass their category C test before they can go onto the larger C+E. We found that only a third of customers came back to do their C+E, especially with the fact that we train a lot of horsey people that only need their rigid licence. So our latest purchase was in October 2016, were we bought an ex-Argos 2011 1840 Mercedes Axor tractor unit and 13.7 metre Euroliner trailer. After 11 years in business we bought our very first artic!!