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Chauffeur etiquette in the 1950s

Here, we look at some of the quirky, austere and simply hilarious rules and regulations for chauffeurs, listed in the Rolls Royce Owner’s Club’s ‘What A Good Chauffeur Should Know’, which was issued in the 1950s. You can see some of the meticulous details many chauffeurs were required to pay heed to, for example, the necessity of wearing brown leather gloves whilst driving, over any other colour or material.

An important tool in any chauffeur’s possession is politeness. These guidelines are quick to state that upon opening a door to allow a passenger in or out of the vehicle, the chauffeur must tip his cap. Similarly, the chauffeur is not allowed to assume his driving position until all passengers are inside the car and seated comfortably.

A specific set of guidelines were put in place concerning the provision of transportation services to the Royal family. The chauffeur must remove his cap as the Royal ‘personage’ comes out of the door, additionally, he must keep it off until the Royal is comfortably seated. This rule applied to both entry and exit of the vehicle.

Although you may expect this special treatment to be for Royals only, it extended to the ordinary passenger as well. For example, rules on smoking in the vehicle were as follows; it is not done whilst driving a passenger, during waiting periods or while driving to collect a passenger. Moreover, at least half an hour was required after smoking a cigarette, following this, the chauffeur was required to open all windows to ‘remove all traces of smoke’.

Rules on conversation are perhaps the most amusing, with the passenger determining whether dialogue should occur. The chauffeur is allowed only to reply in short, polite answers unless the passenger initiates further conversation! To see the guide in its entirety, click here.