All posts by Gibson Square

A Licensed Black London Cab Driver I share my London with you . . . The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Anorak Alert

Today I came across Transport for London’s licensing information. The website promises to keep me informed about ‘How licences fees are invested, weekly licence issues, vehicles inspections and licence checks’. With a heading like that, I could hardly resist checking it out, and for me if nobody else, it makes for interesting reading.

But first the data:

Licensed
Cabbies
Black
Cabs
Public Hire
Drivers
Public Hire
Vehicles
Year
201024,91422,44559,19149,355
201125,07022,55861,20050,663
201225,33623,09964,06353,960
201325,46022,16866,97549,854
201425,53822,81065,65652,811
201525,23222,50078,69062,724
201624,87021,759101,43478,139
201724,48721,300117,71287,409
201823,82621,026113,64587,921
201923,15920,136106,77788,113
202022,33718,504111,76694,712
Transport for London: For the week ending 1 November 2020

Unfortunately I could not find any licensing figures before 2010.

Commendably, even during these testing times, this information is updated every week, informing me that 28 cabbies, for various reasons, surrendered their Bill (licence), while only 4 gained their driver’s licence. This means that seven times more cabbies are leaving than joining the ranks.

More significantly taxi vehicle licences (ie the number of cabs that could be driven around London plying for hire) decreased by 280 on the previous week, probably due to the 15-year rule, while there were only 9 new licences issued for cabs.

Conversely, private hire vehicle licences decreased by 819, but 199 decided their car could become a ‘cab’, far less of a reduction in the number of black cab vehicles.

Unfortunately, I could not find any statistics earlier than 2010, and I couldn’t be bothered to raise a Freedom of Information Request.

Looking at the decade’s figures you find that in 2010 there were 1,111 more vehicles than cabbies to drive them around London. By 2020 this has been reversed with more cabbies than there were vehicles by almost the same number at 1,138. Now, this could be drivers ‘doubling up’ to share a vehicle, this can be discounted as 10 years ago renting a cab at ‘half flat’ was a common practice. My unscientific conclusion is that the Mayor’s scrapping of older vehicles has left many retaining their Bill, but not working or wishing to rent or buy.

Another obvious comparison is with the rise of private hire drivers compared with a decline in cabbies. Twenty-fifteen saw an explosion in private hire licenses being issued from 78,690 to 101,434. That same period witnessed the first decline in cabbies, from a high of 25,232, just short of the all-time high the previous year, to 24,870.

This decline in the number of cabbies plying for hire in London coincided with Sadiq Khan becoming the Mayor of London four months later on 9th May 2016. From that, you cannot prove causation, but his appointment does coincide with what could prove to be the start of the Black Cabbie’s terminal decline.

London in Quotations: J. M. Barrie

The greatest glory that has ever come to me was to be swallowed up in London, not knowing a soul, with no means of subsistence, and the fun of working till the stars went out.

J. M. Barrie (1860-1937)

London Trivia: Iron Lady’s farewell

On 22 November 1990 at 9.30 in the morning, Downing Street issued a statement after Mrs. Thatcher had informed her Cabinet and the Queen of her intention to stand down as Prime Minister, after her Cabinet refused to back her in the second round of leadership elections. She did not continue to fight Michael Heseltine for the Conservative Party leadership after a string of serious disputes over Britain’s involvement in the Europe.

On 22 November 1774 General Robert Clive known as ‘Clive of India’, died at his Berkeley Square house from ‘an excessively large dose of opium’.

In 1597 Ben Jonson was charged with ‘Leude and mutynous behavior’ and jailed in Marshalsea Prison for co-writing the play The Isle of Dogs

The Fire of London destroyed: 87 churches; Guildhall Royal Exchange; Customs House; 52 company halls; 4 prisons; 3 City gates; 4 bridges; and 13,000 houses

William Cowle died in the upstairs room of the Carlisle Arms, Soho in 1893, by placing a billiard ball in his mouth for a bet

The Ayrton Light atop Parliament’s Elizabeth Tower, popularly known as Big Ben, shines to show that the House is sitting

The ships surmounting flagpoles on The Mall depict Nelson’s fleet who defeated the French at The Battle of Trafalgar

Millwall (Rovers) were formed in the summer of 1885 by workers at Morton’s Jam Factory on the Isle of Dogs

On 22 November 2009 Jermain Defoe gained the record for the most goals (5) in one half of a Premiership game when Spurs beat Wigan 9-0

Clapham Junction Station is the busiest terminal in Britain once having 2,500 trains per day passing through

The majority of workers at Mortons Jam factory were of Scottish origin, this is the origin of Millwall’s famous blue & white colours

The definition of a Londoner: one who has never been to Madame Tussaud’s; Harrods once claimed to be able to supply elephants

CabbieBlog-cab.gifTrivial Matter: London in 140 characters is taken from the daily Twitter feed @cabbieblog.
A guide to the symbols used here and source material can be found on the Trivial Matter page.

Shades of Grey

Writing earlier this week about my Mission Statement and blogging in general, it occurred to me that this form of writing and communicating has become a generational malarkey.

But first, let me take you to the halcyon days of blogging when we would get invited to anything from book launches to private viewings to places not normally open to the public.

One such invite (in fact twice to this location) was to the BT Tower. Once to witness the launch of BT’s new home modem. Quite what that had to do with CabbieBlog I’ve never understood.

The other invitation was for bloggers (or influencers in their parlance), to listen to a talk by Leo Hollis author of The Phoenix: The Men Who Made Modern London.

Now, here’s the thing. Having been shot up by lift to the top of the BT Tower, the organiser stepped forward to ask if I was the speaker. I realised later his mistake was due to my age. I was, like Leo Hollis in my 50s, while everyone else was in their 20s.

And this is how blogging has changed. In the nascent years of blogging, much of this fraternity had just left university. Now many good blogs, and plenty of crap ones, by this group have fallen by the wayside, I suppose they now have more important demands on their life.

Today the Millennials don’t want to write long-form posts when a Facebook or Instagram picture is sufficient, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Now many who take the time to respond to my twice-weekly missives are – how shall I put this? – Not in their first flush of youth.

Now, this could be that my sedentary posts appeal to others of my age group. Writing such riveting subjects as ‘Just where was London’s first door number?’ probably wouldn’t appeal to many under 40.

With a little research (checking out the internet) I’ve discovered that 10 years ago, when I was ascending the BT Tower, the average age of bloggers fell in the 21-35 range, uploading over half of all posts. Conversely, those between 51-65 of age accounted for just 7.1 per cent of posts.

Today with a new post uploaded every 0.5 seconds, the same body of researchers found those over 60 now account for 20 per cent of uploads, nearly three times those of 10 years ago.

From which you can extrapolate that somewhere in the world, every 2½ seconds (or 34,560 times a day) someone in carpet slippers, wearing comfortable, sensible clothing, is peering through their bifocals uploading a post.

What did the Romans do for us?

I don’t think a day has gone by since the Romans arrived that Bishopsgate has been free of roadworks.