Thinking allowed — 06 June 2017
A potted history of cabs

By granting an extension to Uber’s licence to operate in London Sadiq Khan appears to have given up supporting the London Taxi Trade unlike Bulgaria, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Alaska, Iceland, China, Taiwan. As the world’s oldest cab trade starts its slow slide into oblivion here is a short post on its long history.

In the early 1600 Hackney carriages, or ‘Hackney Hell-Carts, appeared on London’s streets.

1635
The first recognised cab rank established by Captain Bailey at the Maypole in the Strand (where St Mary-le-Strand church is today).

1636
King Charles I issued a proclamation restricting the number of Hackney coaches to just 50, and they were only allowed to pick up passengers who were travelling more than 3 miles.

1654
Oliver Cromwell orders the Court of Aldermen of the City of London to grant licences to 200 hackney coachmen. A 6-mile limit was imposed as London’s chain of defences, that had been erected during the Civil War in 1642, only extended to that perimeter and beyond it was considered unsafe.

1657
These licences are revoked, some say for drunkenness, others that the aldermen favoured Cavaliers to Roundheads.

1660
Restoration of the Monarchy leads to restoration of licences.

1662
The Hackney Coach Office is set up to regulate the trade.

1679
Introduction of ‘Conditions of Fitness’ for hackney carriages.

1768
The number of hackney licences increases to one thousand.

1784
An Act of Parliament gave the Hackney carriage trade the sole right to use their coaches as ‘hearses and mourning coaches at funerals’.

1833
Duties of the Hackney Coach Office transferred to the Stamp Office.

1834
Joseph Hansom patents his two-wheel cabriolet (the Hansom cab).

1836
A four-wheel version follows – the ‘Clarence’, aka the ‘Growler’.

1843
Control of the cab trade passes from the Stamp Office to the Commissioner of Police and the Public Carriage Office is formed soon after.

1851
Introduction of ‘The Knowledge’ by Police Commissioner, Sir Richard Mayne.

1869
An Act of Parliament gave the Commissioner of Police authority to regulate the manner in which the carriages were to be fitted and furnished, and importantly the number of persons allowed to be carried.

1873
The most famous cab the Hansom by Henry Forder of Wolverhampton was introduced as an improvement on the previous model.

1875
London’s first cab shelter is built, thanks to Captain Armstrong.

1885
The Public Carriage Office moves to premises in Scotland Yard.

1891
Wilhelm Bruhn invents the taximeter.

1891
Walter Bersey launches a fleet of battery-operated cabs.

1897
The first internal-combustion engine cabs are introduced by Prunel, a Frenchman.

1907
Regulations were introduced requiring all cabs to be fitted with a taximeter.

1911
Publication of the first ‘Blue Book’.

1913
The great cab drivers’ strike when cab fleet owners increased fuel charges by 60 per cent.

1927
The Public Carriage Office moves to 109 Lambeth Road and the first taxi school opens, run by the British Legion.

1936
The last licence for a horse-drawn cab is issued (and rescinded the following year).

1939
At the outbreak of the war 2,500 taxis were converted into auxiliary fire fighting engines, ambulances and Army personnel carriers.

1966
The Public Carriage Office moves to 15 Penton Street.

1996
CabbieBlog gets his green badge.

2000
Administration of the Public Carriage Office passes from the Metropolitan Police to Transport for London.

2010
The Public Carriage Office is re-named ‘London Taxi and Private Hire Licensing’ and re-locates to 197 Blackfriars Road.

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Gibson

(2) Readers Comments

  1. At a very quick first glance I thought the title said, “A History of Potted Crabs”. Maybe you could add that to your list for some future date. As usual super info., thanks.

    • I think you must be confusing London cabs with TfL

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