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Essex Driving Test Centres: Your Essential Guide

Essex

In our Essential Guide series, we travel the length and breadth of the UK, introducing you to every driving test centre, one county at a time. In this guide, we’ll be focusing on the Essex driving test centres.

There’s plenty of choice for learners in this county, from those living closer to London in the west through to those on the Essex coast. So, join us as we explore all eight of the Essex driving test centres—or use our handy menu to jump to your preferred location.


Test Centres

Basildon
Brentwood
Chelmsford (Hanbury Road)
Clacton-on-Sea
Colchester
Loughton
Southend-on-Sea
Tilbury

Basildon

Basildon street view image

BASILDON FACT FILE
Address Paycocke Road
Basildon
Essex
SS14 3JS

Parking? Yes
Toilets? Yes: male and female
Disabled access? You can get into the test centre in a wheelchair
2018/19 pass rate 42.8%

We’ll start off our rundown of the Essex driving test centres in Basildon. Within reach of the coast, but still with easy access to London, Basildon lies at the centre of one of the most densely populated parts of the county. As such, the Basildon driving test centre serves as a useful backup for those living across southern Essex. It is also, of course, the top choice for those living in the Basildon area, and in nearby towns such as Billericay and Wickford.

Over seven-and-a-half thousand driving tests took place here in 2018/19, making this the most popular test centre in the county. It was also the place where no fewer than 3,228 learners got their licence over the same period. This resulted in a pass rate of 42.8%, which is just slightly below the national average.

Reaching this test centre will involve travelling to the industrial estate on Paycocke Road in the north of Basildon. This lies close to the Southend Arterial Road, which crosses Essex east-to-west. The test centre also has its own car park, which means your examiner may ask you to complete a bay park at the end of your test as your reversing manoeuvre.

Test routes starting from Basildon will take in the A roads which criss-cross and encircle the town, such as the A13, Cranes Farm Road, and the aforementioned Southend Arterial Road. Balancing this out will be a selection of residential areas in and around the Basildon area, where you’ll need to prove your observation skills at slower speeds.


Brentwood

Brentwood street view image

BRENTWOOD FACT FILE
Address 89 Warley Hill
Brentwood
Essex
CM14 5JN

Parking? No
Toilets? Yes: male and female
Disabled access? You can get into the test centre in a wheelchair
2018/19 pass rate 55.1%

We travel less than 20 minutes down the road to reach our next test centre: Brentwood. With this town sitting on the western border of the county, the Brentwood driving test centre is a useful option for those in both Essex and Greater London. Its proximity to the M25 means that local learners may also get an opportunity to practise their motorway driving skills with an instructor.

Of course, the London Orbital won’t feature on your test itself. Test routes here can, however, be incredibly diverse. Some learners may find themselves directed towards some of the narrow country roads to the north of Shenfield. In other cases, meanwhile, you could have to face town centre traffic—and a tricky double mini roundabout!

With so many variables coming into play, you may think this is a particularly difficult place for learners to get their licence. As it so happens, though, Brentwood actually has the highest pass rate of all the Essex driving test centres. In fact, with 55.1% of tests resulting in a pass, it’s streets ahead of the national average! Despite this, it was the least-frequented test centre in the county in 2018/19, with only 2,563 tests taking place here.

Unlike in some towns, where you’ll need to navigate rarely-traversed serpentine lanes deep into industrial estates to find your starting point, Brentwood test centre is conveniently found on a main road. What’s more, it’s only a couple of minutes south from the centre of town, and barely a minute from the train station. A doddle!


Chelmsford (Hanbury Road)

Chelmsford (Hanbury Road) street view image

CHELMSFORD (HANBURY ROAD) FACT FILE
Address Hanbury Road
Widford Industrial Estate
Chelmsford
Essex
CM1 3DR

Parking? No
Toilets? Yes: male and female
Disabled access? No information
2018/19 pass rate 46.1%

As not only the county town of Essex, but also the only city within the county, Chelmsford has a lot going for it. So, what about Chelmsford’s Hanbury Road test centre? Well, first off, we’ll clear up the name. Usually, when a test centre has a specific location in brackets, it’s because there’s more than one in town. Not so here. There once was, however, a second test centre here in Chelmsford over at Hoffmanns Way, but this bit the dust back in 2018. This has left Hanbury Road as the last centre standing.

The bad news about the closure is that the old Hoffmanns Way test centre was closer to the city centre. However, learners need not fret too much: Hanbury Road is only a seven-minute drive south from the centre of Chelmsford. More specifically, it’s in the Widford part of the city—and in (you guessed it!) an industrial estate. Its location in the heart of Essex makes it a useful option for those across the county, and it’s actually the closest centre available for those living as far afield as Braintree.

The location of Chelmsford Hanbury Road test centre gives examiners plenty of choice when it comes to test routes. Perhaps you’ll be heading towards the city centre, where busy traffic will test your clutch control skills, while major junctions such as the Odeon Roundabout will require keen observation. Or maybe you’ll head towards some of the more rural areas towards the south of Chelmsford, where you’ll need to balance appropriate speed with spotting potential hazards around tricky bends.

The pass rate at this test centre in 2018/19 closely matched the national average—46.1%, compared to 45.8% for the country as a whole. Almost six-and-a-half thousand tests took place here during the year, with almost three thousand candidates gaining their licence as a result. Thanks to the closure of the Hoffmanns Way test centre, early data suggests Hanbury Road is set to become Essex’s busiest in 2019/20.


Clacton-on-Sea

Clacton-on-Sea street view image

CLACTON-ON-SEA FACT FILE
Address 103-105 Carnarvon Road
Clacton-on-Sea
Essex
CO15 6PR

Parking? Yes
Toilets? Yes: male and female
Disabled access? No information
2018/19 pass rate 49.1%

Next up, we’re off to the seaside to visit Clacton-on-Sea! It’s not a trip to the pier we’re after here, though, but the Clacton-on-Sea driving test centre. Lying in the north-east of Essex, this is the perfect choice for anyone from the Tendring peninsula looking to take their test. So, whether you’re from Clacton itself, Harwich further north, or anywhere in between, this one’s for you.

Serving a somewhat smaller population than those located in the denser parts of Essex, Clacton is generally one of the less-frequented test centres in the county. 3,259 tests took place here in 2018/19, with 1,601 of those coming out with a pass. As a result, Clacton’s pass rate of 49.1% is one of the best in Essex, and stands ahead of the national average.

Given Clacton’s location, this test centre is one of the few that features routes that go along the seafront. If this is the case, you may have to watch out for traffic in some of the busier months of the year. If things are quiet, however, the many parking spaces make this an excellent place for an examiner to test you on your parallel parking manoeuvre. Not all routes will head to the seaside, though: some will go north to the town’s residential areas, and up towards Little Clacton.

The final thing to note about the Clacton-on-Sea test centre is the most important: where is it? The good news here is that it’s right in the middle of Clacton—no messing about with distant office parks here! In fact, it’s just across the road and a few doors down from the local train station, making it easy to reach even from far afield.


Colchester

Colchester street view image

COLCHESTER FACT FILE
Address Grange Way
Colchester
Essex
CO2 8HF

Parking? Yes
Toilets? Yes: male and female
Disabled access? You can get into the test centre in a wheelchair
2018/19 pass rate 39.8%

The image above may give you a hint as to where you might find Colchester‘s driving test centre. Yep, it’s a business park—and this time, it’s one in the Old Heath area, a few miles to the south of the town centre. This does mean, though, that you get the benefit of a test centre with plenty of parking spaces. You could even try one last bay park before you head into the waiting room!

Together with Clacton, Colchester is one of only a small number of test centres in the northern part of Essex. This means that the Colchester driving test centre serves not only the town itself, but a broader area, including nearby Mersea Island, and some western parts of the Tendring peninsula.

Though you’ll be starting out in the Old Heath part of town, your driving test route will soon progress to other parts of town. Many test routes take in the town centre, which includes major junctions like St Botolph’s Circus and the Maldon Road Roundabout. Others will avoid this area entirely, instead travelling towards different locations south of Colchester.

There were no fewer than 6,530 tests taken here in 2018/19, with 2,600 candidates walking away with a new driving licence. This equated to a pass rate of 39.8%—a few points below the national average, and the lowest score in Essex. Don’t despair if your test is due to take place here, though: it’s how you do on the day that matters, not the stats!


Loughton

Loughton street view image

LOUGHTON FACT FILE
Address Crown Buildings
284 High Road
Loughton
Essex
IG10 1RB

Parking? Yes: limited
Toilets? No
Disabled access? Arrangements will be made at this test centre if you have a disability
2018/19 pass rate 45.0%

Nestled in the far south-western corner of Essex is Loughton. In fact, Loughton driving test centre is the only one in the county that’s found within the M25. It serves towns such as Chigwell and Epping, in addition to Loughton itself. The test centre also acts as a useful backup for parts of north-east London, such as Chingford.

The location of the test centre is something of a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it’s right in the middle of Loughton, on High Road itself—so, there’ll be no need to head to an unfamiliar part of town. On the other hand, though, you may need eagle eyes to find it, as it’s tucked behind the local Job Centre, with only a small sign on the gate to indicate that you’re in the right place. Still, now you know!

Once you’ve set off from the Job Centre-cum-test centre, your driving test could take various directions. Some learners could find themselves heading north towards Theydon Bois, travelling through wooded areas and needing to tackle hill starts. Alternatively, you could keep the suburban theme going throughout your test, taking to areas such as Buckhurst Hill.

The pass rate here at Loughton was 45.0% in 2018/19, putting it within close range of the national average. Almost six thousand tests took place here during the year, and 2,681 learners celebrated passing their test and driving off with a full UK licence.


Southend-on-Sea

Southend-on-Sea street view image

SOUTHEND-ON-SEA FACT FILE
Address The Tickfield Centre
Tickfield Industrial Estate
Tickfield Avenue
Southend-on-Sea
Essex
SS2 6LL

Parking? Yes: limited
Toilets? Yes: male and female
Disabled access? No information
2018/19 pass rate 45.6%

Southend-on-Sea is Essex’s largest town, so it’s little surprise to learn that the DVSA have sited a test centre here for local learners. Though you may know the town for its seaside attractions, the Southend-on-Sea driving test centre is found away from the action, at the Tickfield Centre in the Prittlewell part of town. You’ll have to navigate a few side roads to get here—it’s so secretive that even Google’s Street View won’t show you where it is!

Once you do find your way here, of course, you won’t be sticking around for long. No, you’ll be back out onto the roads of Southend! Test routes here take in a broad area, with some heading as far west as Thundersley. You may find yourself circling around the local airport, heading down towards Southend’s Marine Parade, or driving carefully through local residential areas.

In this populous part of Essex, Southend is the go-to test centre. As such, it’s the obvious option not only for those living in Southend itself, but for those in nearby towns such as Rayleigh, Rochford and Hadleigh. Pass rates here stick close to the national average, sitting at 45.6% for 2018/19. As you would expect, this is a popular test centre: almost seven thousand learners took their test here in the same year, with over three thousand licences awarded.


Tilbury

Tilbury street view image

TILBURY FACT FILE
Address Montana House
Russell Road
Tilbury
Essex
RM18 7AE

Parking? No
Toilets? Yes: male and female
Disabled access? Arrangements will be made at this test centre if you have a disability
2018/19 pass rate 42.8%

Last on our list of Essex driving test centres is Tilbury. This town is probably best known to the UK at large for its huge container port, where shipments arrive from all corners of the globe. At PassMeFast, though, we’re more interested in what happens on land than maritime shipping routes. That’s why we’re focusing on the ins and outs of the Tilbury test centre.

Tilbury’s test centre lies in the western part of the town itself, and its proximity to both Tilbury Docks and the local train station means it should be easy to find for any learner. It’s the only test centre located in the Thurrock area, meaning that this should be the location of choice for those living in areas such as Grays, Chafford Hundred, Stanford-le-Hope and Purfleet.

With Tilbury itself being a relatively small town, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to learn that test routes here spread out into the wider Thurrock area. It’s not uncommon for candidates to travel towards nearby Grays, with its bustling town centre, while other learners may be taking quieter routes north towards Orsett.

In 2018/19, pass rates here fell slightly short of the national average, standing at 42.8% compared to a UK figure of 45.8%. Nonetheless, 2,411 candidates passed here during the year out of 5,628 tests taken. That’s plenty of reason for a celebration!


If you’re from a different part of the world, but still want to learn more about your local test centres, be sure to check out our other Essential Guides by following the links below.

We’ll be back soon with more Essential Guides in the near future. Keep following the blog for all the latest tips and news!

By Andy Boardman

Andy fell in love with driving while road tripping around Iceland. He'll provide you with plenty of useful motoring advice, helping you to get the most out of every trip. When he's not writing here, you're most likely to find Andy on the way to his next destination.

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