Aug 25, 2010

The most famous taxi time line: London Taxi part 7

The most famous taxi time line: London Taxi part 7 
Taximeter equipment

An Argo taximeter of the 1930s, as fitted to an Austin 12/4

A taximeter is by definition what makes a ‘cab’ a ‘taxicab’. Fitting of a taximeter was made compulsory in London from July 1907. The modern taximeter was a German invention and its name comes from its inventor, Baron von Thurn und Taxis. It was first used in Berlin but soon adopted worldwide. Taximeters in London calculate the fare payable as a combination of time and distance. When the cab is in motion, it records distance and when the cab is stationary it records the time spent standing still and adjusts the fare accordingly. Early taximeters were totally mechanical in operation and the clock that recorded waiting time had to be wound by hand. Meters of the 1960s and 1970s had a built-in electric clock but today, taximeters are fully electronic and operate on a time basis at speeds between zero and 10mph.

There are a number of myths and legends that surround the London cab and its cabmen and many of them are nothing but bunkum. For instance, it has never been law for a motor cabman to carry a bale of hay in his cab. In fact, it was never law for a horse cabman to carry one, although he was required to carry sufficient hard food (e. g. oats) for his horse’s midday feed.

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