London taxis are historically and still officially known as Hackney Carriages, derived from the French word ‘hacquenee’ – a small type of horse commonly used to pull the coaches. The taxi trade took off during the reign of Elizabeth I when innkeepers and merchants bought second-hand carriages to sell journeys to the public. By 1634 London’s first taxi rank was opened on the Strand by Captain John Bailey, who requested his men wear a livery uniform and charge a certain rate to the passenger(s). A speedy two-seater ‘cabriolet’ carriage was introduced around the time of George IV’s reign and this French word is why we call them cabs to this day. London taxi drivers today are world renowned for having undertaken the ‘knowledge’ test which takes on average 2-4 years to learn and includes 320 basic routes, 25,000 streets off those basic routes, and 20,000 places of interest within a six mile radius of Charing Cross.Irina Hutanu
Monday Minstrel: Facts about the London ‘Cab’
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