Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hansom Dump

H. V. Morton, Ghosts of London. London: Methuen & Co., 1939, pp. 51-3.

[Albert] Frisbee is one of the last three hansom cab-drivers in London. He was driving a hansom forty years ago, when there were over fifteen thousand horse-cabs and hansoms on the streets of London. His old badge number is 14,037. [...]

I asked Mr. Frisbee if he could buy six hansoms anywhere to-day, and he shook his head.

'Not for all the gold in the Bank,' he replied.

All those thousands of 'London gondolas' have vanished in our time. The taxicab, slowly at first, and then swiftly, drove them from the streets.

'There used to be a tale,' said Mr. Frisbee, 'that somewhere at Hendon all the thousands of hansom cabs were lying in a huge dump, waiting to be broken up. And I believe it was a true story. That's what happened to them. They were sold for one pound and two pounds apiece. They were broken up for the glass, the springs and the woodwork.'