Hugh Beavin

The Hansom Cab

Ask people to conjure up a scene of Victorian London and one of the images that comes most readily to mind is that of Hansom cabs clattering along crowded, cobbled streets.

The Hansom cab was one of the principal means of transport for decades because of its twin virtues of stability and privacy.

It was also invented in Hinckley.

He famous architect Joseph Hansom was living in Hinckley when, in 1835, he drove the first prototype of his newly-invented cab along Coventry Road and the Watling Street.

Although the later design of the cab was rather different from Hansom's first attempt, the origins of the 19th century cab were firmly rooted in the Regent Street workshops.

Hansom had a prolific career, designing Birmingham Town Hall, Plymouth Cathedral and many other churches, convents, schools and mansions; as well as bringing out the very first edition of the "Builder" magazine.

But it is for the cab bearing his name that he is best remembered - even though he never received a penny from his invention. After selling the company, the new owners defaulted on the debt.

Author: Hugh Beavin

Written for: Hinckley-on-line