Truth Sunday 5th August 1906
The Cabby and the Couple
”There was a wedding in the ’Gabba one night recently, and, after being pelted with showers of rice and good humoured gigged by the guests, the loving couple hopped into a cab and were driven off to their marital nest at Highgate Hill. “Blyme!” said the cabman afterwards, “they jumped outer me flounder an’ went flyin’ up the stairs as if they only had ten seconds left on earth to enjoy themselves. The bloke forgits all about me fare in the excitement, of course! I waited about 5 minutes on the off chance of him rememberin’, then sails to his door, an’ strike me pink! If their light wasn’t already out, and the cove came to ther door fully dressed in his panjamdres after I knocked. Sudden? I should smirk!”
Apart from ferries, cabs were the first form of public transport in Brisbane. With their growing numbers, the Council introduced the first bye-law regulating their operation in 1865. The by-law covered wagonettes, Albert cars, hansom cabs and omnibuses. Albert cars were a common form of cab with back to back bench seats facing forward and rearward, capable of carrying five to seven passengers .
They gradually gave way to more comfortable wagonettes for larger groups and the hansom cab. I’ve looked the omnibus and its peculiarities in my post Brisbane’s Omnibuses .
The hansom cab was designed by Joseph Hansom in 1834 and was in the style of a cabriolet which gave rise to the word “cab”. It became a popular form of horse drawn cab. Motorised taxis started to appear on our streets around the time of World War One, sounding the death knell of these vehicles. The first motor taxi company, Ascot Taxi Service, was started in 1919, operating from the Ascot Garage on Racecourse Road
Brisbane’s last hansom cab driver was Fred de Jersey, who could be seen on Brisbane’s streets up until shortly before his death in 1934. He had been a cabby for 56 years.