London Labour and the London Poor, volume 3

Mayhew, Henry


Hackney-Coach and Cabmen.


I HAVE how described the earnings and conditions of the drivers and conductors of the London omnibuses, and I proceed, in due order, to treat of the Metropolitan Hackney-coach and Cabmen. In official language, an omnibus is "a Metropolitan Stage-carriage," and a "cab" a "Metropolitan Hackney" : the legal distinction being that the stagecarriages pursue a given route, and the passengers are mixed, while the fare is fixed by the proprietor; whereas the hackney-carriage plies for hire at an appointed "stand," carries no but the party hiring it, and the fare for so doing is regulated by law. It is an offence for the omnibus to stand still and ply for hire, whereas the driver of the cab is liable to be punished if he ply for hire while his vehicle is moving.

According to the Occupation Abstract of , the number of "Coachmen, Coachguards, and Postboys" in Great at that time was , of whom were located in England, in Scotland, in Wales, and only in the whole of the British Isles. The returns for the metropolis were as follows:—

 Coach, cab, and omnibus owners . 650 
 Coachmen, coach and omnibus guards, and postboys . . 5428 
 Grooms and ostlers . . . 2780 
 Horse-dealers and trainers . . 246 
 Total . . . 9104 

In the number of "coachowners, drivers, grooms, &c.," was only , and the "horse-dealers, stable, hackney-coach, or flykeepers," , or in all; so that, assuming these returns to be correct, it follows that this class must have increased , or more than quadrupled itself in years.

The returns since the above-mentioned periods, however, show a still more rapid extension of the class. For these I am again indebted to the courtesy of the Commissioners of Police, for whose consideration and assistance I have again to tender my warmest thanks.

 Year. Hackney Drivers. Stage Drivers. Conductors. Watermen. Total. 
 1843 4,627 1,740 1,854 371 8,592 
 1844 4,927 1,833 1,961 390 9,111 
 1845 5,199 1,825 1,930 363 9,317 
 1846 5,356 1,865 2,051 354 9,626 
 1847 5,109 1,830 2,009 342 9,290 
 1848 5,231 1,736 2,017 352 9,836 
 1849 5,487 1,731 2,026 375 9,619 
 1850From 1st May to 4th September, inclusive. 5,114 1,463 1,484 352 8,413 
 Totals. . 41,050 14,023 17,332 2,899 73,804 

By this it will be seen that the drivers and conductors of the metropolitan stage and hackney carriages were in no less than , whereas in , including coachmen of all kinds, guards and postboys, there were only in the metropolis; so that within the last years the class, at the very least, must have more than doubled itself.

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 Title Page
Chapter I: The Destroyers of Vermin
Our Street Folk - Street Exhibitors
Chapter III: - Street Musicians
Chapter IV: - Street Vocalists
Chapter V: - Street Artists
Chapter VI: - Exhibitors of Trained Animals
Chapter VII: Skilled and Unskilled Labour - Garret-Masters
Chapter VIII: - The Coal-Heavers
Chapter IX: - Ballast-Men
Chapter X: - Lumpers
Chapter XI: Account of the Casual Labourers
 Chapter XII: Cheap Lodging-Houses
Chapter XIII: On the Transit of Great Britain and the Metropolis
Chapter XIV: London Watermen, Lightermen, and Steamboat-Men
Chapter XV: London Omnibus Drivers and Conductors
Chapter XVI: Character of Cabdrivers
Chapter XVII: Carmen and Porters
Chapter XVIII: London Vagrants
 Chapter XIX: Meeting of Ticket-of-Leave Men