Daimler Hire Limited a service begun in 1897, provided a luxury chauffeur-driven Daimler Limousine-hire-service from Knightsbridge in London. It was a wholly owned operation and later a subsidiary of The Daimler Company Limited.
Later it included self-drive hire cars and aviation services. London operations were based at 243 Knightsbridge, SW7 — the former Prince's Skating Club—and 68 Brompton Road, SW3. In the 1950s, no longer owned by Daimler, its fleet was extended to include Humber Pullman and Humber Super Snipe limousines
Formally inaugurated in December 1907, Daimler Hire began when half a dozen of the Coventry workforce were ”put through a thorough course of tuition on the motor and driving” so that carriages could be “let out on hire with a competent driver for a period not exceeding three months at a charge of £5 per week – this amount , less driver’s wages to be refunded in the event of purchase”. The London operation began as a reserve pool of cars and staff of drivers to provide support for the mews at Buckingham Palace and other Daimler owners when their cars need servicing. It services soon extended to prosperous London residents who did not wish to have the trouble of keeping their own car and driver. Visitors toured Europe in their Daimler Hire limousines with chauffeur-guide. Daimler viewed it as “a demonstration to all the world of the utility comfort and reliability of the Daimler car”.
During 1919 250 new Daimler limousines were added to the fleet and during the 1919 rail strike they ran shuttle services between London and Birmingham and London and Manchester with “high-powered limousines and landaulettes” “for business trips and journeys of importance”.
From 1919 its services were extended to Daimler Air Hire Limited, a luxury aircraft-hire or charter service to which was soon added a scheduled airline, Daimler Airway Limited, an airway service to France as a natural extension to the facilities for comfortable private transport already afforded by the company through its unique fleet of luxury touring cars.
Daimler Airway, in 1924, became the major constituent of the new national air carrier, Imperial Airways Limited when Daimler Hire’s managing director, Frank Searle and manager George E Woods Humphery, took the same positions with Imperial Airways.
Car radio receivers
In March 1923 a dozen or so radio-equipped cars were put in service. The extra cost of the radio equipment could be as much as 25% on to the cost of the car and even though six radio stations operated in the London area Daimler proved to be too far ahead of demand.
In the summer of 1922 Daimler Hire offered a new service to those who now found running a yacht of their own too expensive, The first vessel was the Dame Lora which first departed on Wednesday 11 August down Southampton Water for a cruise in the Solent. It was intended to be the first of a fleet of new yachts, 80 feet long with a beam of thirteen feet and a gross tonnage of 64 tons, powered by the 105 hp Daimler engine used in wartime tanks. There were two single and two double cabins, Marconiphones were provided for "listening in"and a gramophone to supply music for dancing. The yachts were to be constructed so that they would be able to take parties to the south of France for the winter through the French canals.
Daimler Hire provided 150 Daimler Straight-Eights carrying, in one continuous procession, foreign dignitaries attending the coronation of King George VI in 1937. Over a thousand privately owned Daimlers arranged by Daimler Hire were also used in connection with the coronation.
A wholly owned subsidiary of The Daimler Company Limited in 1930 75% of the ordinary shares were sold to Thomas Tilling Limited which operated a similar London private-hire-car business. They purchased the balance of the capital from Daimler in 1949.
At the beginning of 1958 the company whose chauffeurs then covered 2.3 million miles a year, with self-drive clients accounting for another 7.5 million, was bought by Hertz Group of America as their first inroad into the British car hire business.
Daimler Hire Limited retained its separate trading identity until 1976.
- Lord Montagu and David Burgess-Wise Daimler Century ; Stephens 1995 ISBN 1-85260-494-8
- The Birmingham Small Arms Company (Limited) The Times, Saturday, Oct 11, 1919; pg. 18; Issue 42228
- Company Meeting. Birmingham Small Arms Company, Limited., Taxation Deterring Enterprise., Serious Effects Of Industrial Disputes. The Times, Saturday, Nov 06, 1920; pg. 19; Issue 42561
- The Birmingham Small Arms Company. A Credit Balance Of £250,000, Success Of New Policies. The Times, Wednesday, Apr 30, 1924; pg. 21; Issue 43639
- Economical Yachting, The Times, Friday, August 11, 1922; pg. 6; Issue 43107
- The Birmingham Small Arms Company A Difficult Trading Year, Important Transactions Effected The Times Saturday, 28 November 1931; pg. 17; Issue 45992
- Company Meeting Thomas Tilling Limited, Development And Expansion Of Interests, Year Of Important Acquisitions, Mr. W. Lionel Fraser The Times, Monday, Mar 06, 1950; pg. 9; Issue 51632