Hackney Carriages became known as black cabs

Hackney Carriage

A Hackney or Hackney Carriage is a vehicle for hire, now traditionally known as a Black Cab or London Taxi.

A decade after the new registration system came into force, Hackney Carriages were required to be fitted with a distinctive sign to indicate how many persons the vehicle could seat.

An original hackney carriage

Hackney is an English village, now part of London, and was once thought to be the anglicised derivative of French “haquenée” – a horse of medium size recommended for ladies. Hackney soon became famous in the middle-ages for its horse-drawn carriages.

Picture of 16th century horse drawn carriage

During the 16th century licences for road transportation became required and Scotland Yard Commissioners were established to regulate them. Horse-drawn carriages were later modernised into Hansom Cabs and it was this style of carriage that would become iconic.

Hansom Cabs replaced the Hackney

Designed to combine speed and safety the Hansom Cab was modified by several engineers to improve its practicability. It introduced clockwork taximeters, a payment hatch, a mechanism for passengers to alight and a glass window to prevent back splash from the outside terrain.

Boston's modern Hackney Carriage unit

In the United States, the police department of the city of Boston has a Hackney Carriage Unit, analogous to taxicab regulators in other cities, which issue Hackney Carriage medallions to its taxi operators.

The number plate software in our systems can be upgraded with signs, enabling operators to create modern Taxi Plates for vehicles licenced to take paying customers.