28th June 1853. For Hire.
Joseph Hansom the York architect patented his carriage in 1834 and went on to build and test his first cab a year later in Hinckley, Leicestershire.
Today the 1853 London Hackney Carriage legislation was enacted, one of the aims being to suppress the large advertising carts which were causing a public outcry. It also made compulsory the possession of a licence for operating an Hackney Carriage for hire.(1)
As well as no pictures, placards, notices or adverts, written, painted or printed, drivers must proceed, when possible, not below 6 mph and for 1 hour as required, and allow reasonable luggage. No speeding, abusive language or drunkenness were admissible.
Before the omnibuses of the 19thc, most people outside London at the rare times when travelling, were confined to hitching a lift on wagons carrying goods. The rich had their private carriages, whilst the not so, like Mr Pickwick, travelled by Stage Coach.
As well as the Hansom Cab, later favoured by Sherlock Homes, there was the Clarence, known as a ‘growler’ (from the noise it made), a four-wheeled carriage for four people and named after William Henry, Duke of Clarence (1765-1837), later William IV.
There was also the Brougham which was the first four-wheeled carriage to be pulled by only one horse, invented in 1838 by the Scotsman, Henry, later Baron Brougham and Vaux, with an open driver’s seat.
It demonstrated how with increased travel, new entrants were developing vehicles, such as The Hackney Cabriolet built by David Davies a London carriage builder.(2)
The London Black-Cab with its attendant modern legislation is a direct descendant of the horse-drawn vehicles, to hire, of the past.
(1) The first Hackney Carriage Licensing Act was of 1662 for horse-drawn carriages. The Carriages for Hire had to have 4 wheels, 2 horses and 6 seats and driven by a Jarvey, (described by Sherlock Holmes in a Study in Scarlet).
Prince Puckler-Muskau a 19thc observer of the London scene at the time commented that they were: ‘Chests like Noah’s Ark entirely pasted over with bills, of the dimension of a small house…and carry more lies upon them than Munchausen’.
(2) The 1851 catalogue of the Great Exhibition advertised the Stirling Coach Works Company Est. 1804. Appointed Coach-Builders to her Majesty 1835, William Kinross were described as carriage design and makers.
Estimates were given for repairs and company men would be sent to all parts of the country to take instructions.
Ref: George Scharf’s, London 1820-50, Peter Jackson.
Ref: Street Life of London 1877. J. Thompson, Adolphe Smith/Pic of Hansom.
Ref: books.google.co.uk. Procedures for Licensing Authorities.
Ref: Punch History of Modern England 1892-1914. A. Stokes NYP P. 195/Pic of Growler.