Number one cabbie

James ‘Jimmy’ Michael Howe entered the profession in 1884, driving horse-drawn vehicles around London, and had the distinction of being the regular driver for Leopold Rothschild, whose home in west London is now the Gunnersbury Park Museum.

In 1903 he was the first London cabbie to pick up passengers in a petrol-powered cab, something of a rarity, as London was well served with Hansom cabs.

Howe’s cab was the first to be powered by petrol, and the only one in London for several months, two years later, the number had only risen to 19.

Today, all 18,341 licensed cab drivers carry a green badge with a unique number, mine being 56767. The very first badge — number 1 — was Howe’s most treasured possession, presented to him by police commissioner Lord Trenchard.

Howe’s wife left him in 1913, taking all the furniture, after falling for a man who’d placed a ‘wife wanted’ advert in the local newspaper.

In 1923 Howe was sued for damages after his taxi cab plummeted into a hole on Uxbridge Road.

Howe died on Christmas day 1933 at his home on Wellesby Avenue, Hammersmith, aged 64, dozens of fellow cabbies drove to the funeral to pay their respects.

History does not record whether he was prepared to go south of the River.

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