Aug 25, 2010

The most famous taxi time line: London Taxi part 1

The most famous taxi time line: London Taxi part 1

A Hansom cab - Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli called them ‘the gondolas of London

The name ‘hackney’ as used in hackney coaches and hackney cabs came from the Norman French word ‘Hacquenée’, meaning a horse for hire. The first record of hackney coaches plying for hire in London was in 1588, when one Captain Baily, a veteran of Sir Walter Raleigh’s expeditions put four coaches to work by the maypole in the Strand. By the 1760s, there were over a thousand ‘hackney hell carts’ thronging the streets of London, causing considerable congestion. In 1823 a two-seat, two-wheeled carriage called a cabriolet was introduced. It was very popular for its speed and comfort and from this vehicle we derive the name ‘cab’. From the middle of the 19th century two types of cab began to dominate, the two-wheeled hansom, a fast and elegant carriage and the ponderous four-wheeled ‘growler’ which, with its luggage carrying ability was to be found mostly at railway stations.

Some horse cabs continued to ply for hire into the 1930s but most had gone by the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. London’s very last horse cab licence was surrendered on the 3rd April 1947.

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