An Oral History of the London Cabbie
These are the stories of London and Londoners, new and old. Some take us back to 1950s London when many of the drivers were Jewish. These were the days of the closed shop, pea souper fogs, driving heavy cold cabs on empty roads. Meeting the boat train, or driving to Covent Garden for “the burst” when shows finished at the theatres and the streets were crowded with people looking for a cab home.
Interviews contain tales of the invention of the mini cab in the 1960s, stories of the London Docks and Fleet Street where night workers gave big tips at the end of a shift. There are stories too of the challenges faced by the first black drivers and the first women drivers. The camaraderie but also the conflict.
Stories bring us up to date as London streets become more congested, bus lanes, then cycle lanes and then Uber appears, and new people move into the trade. There are also detailed description of “doing the knowledge” the appearances where cabbies had to memorise up to 25,000 streets and even more places of interest.
There are many stories, funny, sad and poignant, and through these stories we get an insight into the history of the men and women who have driven the famous black cab.