The Hansom Cab & The History Of Hinckley

As a family firm we are immensely proud of our roots and our association with Hinckley. Keen to celebrate our amazing town, we are launching a regular feature that pays homage to things associated with our home town, and it this first feature we are looking at the Hansom Cab, something with strong links to the town.

According to Wikipedia “The hansom cab is a kind of horse-drawn carriage designed and patented in 1834 by Joseph Hansom, an architect from York. The vehicle was developed and tested by Hansom in Hinckley, Leicestershire, England. Originally called the Hansom safety cab, it was designed to combine speed with safety, with a low centre of gravity for safe cornering. Hansom’s original design was modified by John Chapman and several others to improve its practicability, but retained Hansom’s name.”

The hansom cab replaced the hackney carriage as a vehicle for hire and also saw the introduction of clockwork mechanical taximeters to measure fares and provide a clear means of measuring the cost of a journey and the name evolved to become the taxicab.

“Hansom cabs enjoyed immense popularity as they were fast, light enough to be pulled by a single horse (making the journey cheaper than travelling in a larger four-wheel coach) and were agile enough to steer around horse-drawn vehicles in the notorious traffic jams of nineteenth-century London. There were up to 7500 hansom cabs in use at the height of their popularity and they quickly spread to other cities in the United Kingdom, as well as continental European cities, particularly Paris, Berlin, and St Petersburg,” according to Wikipedia.

The cab was introduced to other British Empire cities and to the United States during the late 19th century, being most commonly used in New York City.

As Joseph Barsby, the third generation director of G. Seller & Co. explains, “Our family and the family firm have strong links to Hinckley and as such we are always looking at ways to celebrate the influence and contribution that the town has had on society as a whole. The hansom cab is one of those defining moments in the evolution of transport and with the development and testing taking place in and around Hinckley, it is something that Hinckley has contributed to the world. We are proud of the town and it seemed fitting to celebrate the role of the hansom cab in the development of Hinckley as part of this initiative.”