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WHAT HAS KING CHARLES I AND OLIVER CROMWELL GOT TO DO WITH THE TAXI TRADE? - PART 2


This article is continued from page 48 in the October issue click here to read it: https://bit.ly/3kBWBFz


London hackney cab drivers were now threatened with the introduction of minicabs - what we now know as private hire vehicles.


Carline Mini Cabs of Wimbledon started in March 1961, just before Michael Gotla’s company Welbeck Motors, they had found a loophole in the Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869 - this act only applied to hackney cabs who ‘ply for hire’ on the London streets. Ingeniously, they parked on private land near to busy shopping areas and railway stations.


So they could not be charged for ‘plying for hire’ or touting for business, they decided that the last minicab on their unofficial rank would be the headquarters. The customer would be direct- ed to the driver of the vehicle who was parked on the back of this rank, who after taking instructions from the customer would then send them to the first minicab, whilst radioing the office, name of customer and destination - it would then be transmit- ted to the driver. Carline was making an advanced booking.


March 17, 1961: Tom Sylvester shows his ‘minicabs’ to Rupert Speir, Conservative MP for Hexham, in London


Carline’s first trip into central London from Wimbledon carried a Mr Paulson, the Motor- ing Correspondent for The Evening News. The cost was 10 shillings which in today’s money would be about 50 pence? Surprisingly, Carline also had a credit card system for their cus- tomers and a shared ride for three persons from Wimbledon to


London and the return cost only 35 shillings! In June 1961, Tom Sylvester from Plimico in London used the Fiat Multipla putting 25 black and white ones on the road which could seat four pas- sengers.


Both companies were a threat to the licensed London taxi trade and as you could imagine were met with hostility. There were incidents of minicabs being boxed in by taxi drivers, which un-fortunately lead to drivers being booked for obstruction by the police.


Approximately 3,000 taxi drivers held a meeting at Marylebone. Jim Francis, General Secretary of the Cab Drivers Section for the Transport General Workers Union (Unite) told Mr Butler, the then Government Home Secretary, he had a few days to sort the prob- lem out or the taxi drivers would decide what action to take.


Unfortunately for the taxi drivers, their worst nightmare was around the corner, Welbeck Motors had placed an order of £560,000 for 800 Renault Dauphines, at the time the largest single order for a continental man- ufacturer. The Home Secretary was asked in the House of Com- mons to make the proposed method of hiring minicabs illegal and stated that under the Public Carriage Act of 1869, if police thought that minicabs firms were acting illegally, they ran the risk of being prosecuted.


Welbeck Motors put a full page advertisement in The Evening Standard: “Wish us luck, don’t listen to the twaddle talk turned out by the London taxi trade. We say for the umpteenth time, we are not in competition with the traditional London taxi, we are creating a new market.”


Isn’t this something we would expect to hear from Uber, Ola and all the other app based companies operating in London that have had a damaging effect on London trade and other areas in the UK?


History repeats itself! But do we ever learn?


To be continued in next month’s issue


Ian Hall, Chairman Southampton Hackney and Private Hire Association (SHPHA) Southampton hackney and private hire drivers in our city www.southamptontaxis.org


PRINTING BI-MONTHLY BUT DIGITAL EVERY MONTH www.phtm.co.uk


58 NOVEMBER 2020


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