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ORIGINS
Pre-war taxis

 

 Hackney Cab

 

 

 

 

The origin of "Hackney cab" & "Taxi"

The term "Hackney cab" comes from two sources: "Hackney" is an anglicised version of "Hacquenee", a French horse breed, known for its stamina and ability to trot at moderate pace for long periods.

Naturally, this made them the ideal horse for pulling carriages. More generally hackney became a term for a working horse (as opposed to a thoroughbred for racing) and is the origin of the riding term, to go for a hack.

"Cab" is a shortened form of "cabriolet" - as in the continental term for convertible car. Originally a cabriolet meant a light two wheeled carriage pulled by a single horse.

"Taxi" is an abbreviation of taximeter. The taximeter was invented in Germany and comes from the German word "Taxe" meaning charge or levy.

There is an apocryphal story that the taximeter was invented by the Baron of Thurn and Taxis, one of the richest German aristocrats, but it seems unlikely he would have been interested in calculating how many pfennigs cab drivers should charge.

Austin Cab

The first petrol taxis

The famous Conditions of Fitness that decree the 25ft turning circle of a Hackney cab were laid down by the Public Carriage Office in 1906. In the early years, the biggest taxi manufacturer was William Beardmore of Glasgow.

In 1929 Mann and Overton, the biggest taxi dealership, sponsored Austin to create a new and much more cost-effective cab which immediately dominated the market. Since that agreement, more than 70 years ago, there is a direct line of succession to today's TX4 taxi.