How the London Black Cab Became a Signature Cultural Staple

How the London Black Cab Became a Signature Cultural Staple

When most people are asked to picture or name something that is undoubtedly English or associated with the City of London, the majority will list one of these 5 things: the clock tower Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, red post boxes, the royal family, and the black taxi cab.

All these things have interesting histories, but how did they become to be so heavily associated with London and England; even though almost every country has a House of parliament, a clock tower, and its taxi service?

In this article, you will be introduced to the reasons how and why the black cab came became synonymous with England and London; to help you get a better understanding of this infamous location-based symbol.

Original Name

You may already be aware that the original term for a cab or a term (that you may still hear today associated with a black cab) is a Hackney carriage. This is not linked to the place in London known as Hackney; however, and is linked to a French word which is used to mean a horse that could be hired; known as ‘hacquenee.’ However, because there was a place in London called Hackney, the name has simply struck. If you are looking to become a cab driver in London and are looking for a black cab for sale, you may even be able to find them listed under Hackney carriages.

Presence in London

The black cab itself did not become well known on the streets of London until after the Second World War. This is because there simply wasn’t enough money to invest in expanding on the original Austin W4 cars, which are the standard model for taxi cabs. Once there was an investment in the late 50s, these cars became synonymous with London and the image has simply stuck.


The media has also helped to influence this image of the cab being a symbol of London. If you have ever seen a televised event; such as the royal wedding or anything relating to the royal family in London, you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be at least one black cab placed strategically in the background. Once again, to cement this car as the image of London and English culture.


However, it’s not just the cars that are known worldwide. To become a black cab driver, the drivers themselves must pass a series of extensive tests with one known as ‘the knowledge’. This is a formidable test, which requires them to use their memory; and locate up to 1500 tourist locations within 6 miles of Charing Cross station.


Yes, Uber has seemingly taken the world by storm; but because the image associated with the black cab is one of being safe; wheelchair friendly, and being exceedingly sturdy; these cars have a reputation that is not going to go away any time soon. So, when you get into a Hackney carriage; you can be certain of a good cab trip, irrespective of where you are going.

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