Antiqua Print Gallery London Hackney Carriage Act 1853
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London Hackney Carriage Licencing

Hackney coaches plying for hire in London, Westminster and the surrounding areas were first required to be licensed in 1662. A licence cost £5 a year. From 1662, the minimum size of horse was specified, and from 1679, “conditions of fitness” were laid down by the Hackney Coach Commissioners regulating the size and construction of the coaches. In 1694 an Act of Parliament made the Hackney Coach Commissioners permanent and established the Hackney Coach Office. This and the Commissioners were abolished by the London Hackney Carriage Act of 1831. Previous limitations on the numbers of hackney carriages in London were removed. Licences for hackney carriages operating within a five mile radius of the General Post Office were in future to be issued by the Board of Stamps, which did not, however, inherit the regulatory powers enjoyed by the Hackney Coach Commissioners. In 1838 the Home Secretary was empowered to appoint a Registrar of Metropolitan Public Carriages who licensed hackney carriage drivers and conductors. The office of Registrar was abolished in 1850 and his responsibilities transferred to the Metropolitan Police. Jurisdiction over hackney carriage proprietors had remained with the Board of Stamps, then from 1849 with the Board of Inland Revenue, who issued hackney carriage licences. From 1853 proprietors had to produce certificates to show that their carriages had been inspected and approved by the Metropolitan Police. The Metropolitan Public Carriages Act of 1869 transferred responsibility for licensing hackney carriages to the Home Secretary who delegated it to the Commissioner of Police. The Public Carriage Office was established to deal with this work. From 1843 the area of jurisdiction over hackney carriages had been extended to the Metropolitan Police District and the City of London. The first petrol driven cab was licensed in 1903 and by 1914 the horsedrawn hansom cab was rapidly disappearing. In 1906 the Public Carriage Office drew up “Conditions of Fitness for Motor Hackney Carriages” which required amongst other regulations that vehicles should be capable of being turned within a 25 feet circle.

(Source City of London)