The London black cab is as quintessentially British as the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. The black cab is the first thing to notice when arriving in the City. The recognisable taxis have appeared in a thousand of films over the years. James Bond, Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes have all used the iconic taxis at some point.
If you are planning to visit London and see the sights then you should consider coming on our black cab tour of London. There is no better way to enjoy the highlights of London than from the comfort of a traditional Black Taxi.
The tour lasts for 4 hours and during that time your expert guide will provide commentary and point out London’s top attractions. You will learn lots of fascinating anecdotes, historic events and snippets of trivia which will keep you entertained from start to finish. Half way through the tour you can walk into St James’s Park and enjoy a break and some great photo opportunities.
Your tour starts in fashionable South Kensington and takes you past all of the world famous sights such as the Queens official residence Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben. The tour ends at the Tower of London at which point you will be familiar with most of the capital’s iconic landmarks and ready to start exploring on your own.
Those looking for a movie location tour should head to our sister site Brit Movie Tours.
History of Black Taxis
The first ‘taxis’ came around in the 1600s during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. The first taxis were horse drawn coaches and were known as ‘hackneys’. The term comes from the Norman French word ‘hacquenée’ which referred to a horse that was available to hire. Still today many people call traditional London black taxis as ‘hackney cabs’.
These early taxis got a bad reputation for being expensive. This led to the first organised taxi rank which was set up by Captain John Baily. He got four coaches and set prices for journeys’ and made coachmen wear a uniform. He set the standard and many people jumped on the band wagon and set up taxi services. But none of them had the same high stands as John Bailys taxi firm which led to the House of Parliament passing the first regulatory bill for taxis in 1654.
The first motorized taxis in London were actually electrically powered. Electric taxis were introduced to London in 1897. They were designed by Walter Berseys so the cabs became nicknamed ‘Berseys’. But after just three years they were taken off the streets as they were too unreliable and expensive to run.
Where did the word ‘Taxi’ come from?
London’s first petrol taxis were introduced three years later and it was in 1906 that cabs got the name ‘taxis’. This was because they were fitted with taximeters to display fares which had been made compulsory. Over the next years the taxi trade grew until the first and second world war. Taxi drivers were called up to serve the army and production of the cabs stopped until after the war.
After the war there was a need for new taxis. All of the pre-war models were discontinued. In 1948 a new Austin, called the FX3 was built by Carbodies of Coventry. Carbodies and Austin soon dominated the market.
Black Cabs Today
Today all black cabs are wheelchair accessible and carry a number of aids for travellers such as ramps, swivel seats and an intermediate step to help folk into cabs. The Hybrid TX5 seats six passengers and can use electric power alone for more than 70 miles.
To learn more about London taxi history head over to this page: https://lvta.co.uk/history.htm