The History of Black Cabs in London

The History of Black Cabs in London

Fun Facts About The Black Cabs in London

  • The taxi trade originally began in the 1600s as a horse-drawn carriage with the first taxi rank being situated in The Strand.
  • A black cab has to be tall enough to accommodate an individual wearing a bowler hat.
  • A taxi is not by law legally obliged to give you a change.
  • A black cab driver is expected to know over 25,000 roads, 20,000 landmarks and memorise 320 routes within a six-mile radius of Charing Cross. All of London’s black cab taxis must pass the test called “The Knowledge.”
  • Black cabs are the only taxis that you can hail to stop for a ride. Minicabs, Uber cabs or any other cabs will not stop, doing so is illegal. Your cab may be unlicensed, and you may not be insured.
  • The black cab turns on a two-pence with a turning circle of 25ft.
  • With 25,000 black cabbies in London most are all owner drivers. You’re technically stepping into their shop!
  • London’s iconic black cab industry is ranked No.1 in the world.
  • The cabbie’s first ‘Green Huts’ opened in 1875. They are dotted all over London with only 13 now remaining. They are a great place to eat, providing proper home-cooked food.

History of The Black Cabs/Hackney Cabs

The Hackney Carriage has a lengthy history; in fact, the first carriages and drivers were licenced in the 1660s; through time, they evolved into two-wheel and four-wheel horse-drawn carriages in the 19th century.

However, horses were regarded as a traffic hazard by the middle of the twentieth century and were fully displaced by automobiles.

A hackney carriage is a taxicab that is permitted to ply the streets seeking passengers to pick up, as opposed to private hire cars (often known as minicabs), which may only pick up passengers who have previously booked or who visit the taxi operator’s office.

This is a crucial distinction to make when in London since if you try to flag down a private hire cab, they will not stop.

Hackney Cabs also known as Black Cabs because they were almost always black, but today comes in a range of hues, many of which are utilised for advertising.

The cab is available for rent if the yellow TAXI sign in front is illuminated. Black cabs are required by law to accept any work for a distance of up to 12 miles (20 miles for cabs at the Heathrow Airport taxi ranks) or a duration of up to one hour. Fares are metered, with a £2.40 minimum charge.

A unique feature of black cabs is that they should have a turning radius of only 25 feet (8 metres). This is allegedly due to the Savoy Hotel’s narrow turning circle at its entrance.

London hackney carriage drivers are regarded as among the greatest taxi drivers in the world, owing to the fact that they must pass tough examinations before receiving a licence. They must pass an exam called The Knowledge to indicate that they understand the geography of London’s streets, prominent buildings, and roadways.

The Public Carriage Office licences around 20,000 black cabs in London.

Take a look at our infographic below which takes a further look into the history of Black Cabs in London.

The History of Black Cabs in London


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