Get into a London Black Taxi cab and you’re bound to get this kind of experience “Cor Blimey Guvnor where do you wanna go then? I can’t go sarf (south) of the river this time of night”. This would be true if you’d stepped into a stereotypical cab, but you are quite likely to find that the taxi drivers of London are represented by many nationalities not just cockneys. If you’d got into the cab of taxi driver Fred Housego in the nineteen eighties you’d have been regaled with the history of London and the background to all it’s points of interest because Fred was a previous winner of Mastermind. People seemed surprised to find out the employees in menial jobs could be clever forgetting the fact that taxi drivers need to remember every street in London to find the shortest route. This is known as “the knowledge” and you have to take a test on it before you can become a cab driver.
Where does this iconic London stalwart come from?
The Black cab has seen off Buses and the Underground to remain one of the most prominent and permanent ways for getting around London. The alternative being that you pay the congestion charge and risk driving yourself. The Black Cab or Hackney Carriage as it is also known (this was due to the fact that the village of nearby Hackney provided the specially trained horses to pull the carriages) is an extremely individual looking vehicle. Despite some modern lines and updating it still has the air of something out of the 1950’s. Many would say that the views of the driver in the cab also sound like something out of the 1950’s as well so they are in fact, well matched.
Some celebrities have their own special way of getting from A to B like hiring a Party Bus Cheltenham way which allows them to get there in style. In fact there are several instances where celebrities have used the simple cab to get about. For example, the Duke of Edinburgh was known to own one to get around London (he really didn’t need a seat belt back then as it wasn’t illegal) as did the Actor and intellectual raconteur Stephen Fry. You’d have got a Housego type trip if you’d got into his, or more probably a mouthful and told to get out as it was a not for hire. Noel Edmonds used one and registered it to get to his studio in Bristol so he could use the Taxi lane, he even put a dummy in the back so people would think he had a passenger. Considering the terrible road system around Bristol, which is constantly ata virtual standstill this seems like total genius.
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