On this day in history : 23rd December 1834 – English architect Joseph Hansom patents the horse drawn taxi that becomes known as the Hansom Cab….

Joseph Hansom – Public domain

Hansom was a prolific architect from York, who designed some 200 buildings, including Birmingham Town Hall, Arundel Cathedral, the Oxford Oratory and the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Portsmouth…. He also designed many other churches and public buildings….

Birmingham Town Hall – Image credit : Very Quiet CC BY-SA 2.0

After designing his safety cab it was suggested by his employer that he patent it – and so he did in December 1834…. His cab had a lower centre of gravity than its contemporaries, with larger wheels and a suspended axle…. This gave a more comfortable ride and made it safer than existing carriages….

Hansom Cab – Image credit : Andrew Dunn CC BY-SA 2.0

Hansom sold his design and patent on to a manufacturing company for £10,000…. However, the company got into financial difficulties and so he never received his money…. The first Hansom Cab travelled down Coventry Road in Hinkley, Leicestershire in 1835….

Hansom Cab, London 1877 – Public domain

The cabs soon began to appear on the streets of London and proved to become very popular…. They were fast and light enough to be pulled by one horse; their agility meant they could be easily steered around the traffic jams congesting the busy city centre…. It was not long before other cities in the UK and Ireland welcomed them and they went on to spread across continental cities such as Paris, Berlin and St. Petersburg…. They were used across the Empire – and became especially common in New York…. But by 1908 they were in decline as they were beginning to be widely replaced by motor vehicles….

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