169 Years of History
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The concept of a ‘Hackney Carriage’ (what we now call a cab or taxi) dates back to the first licences issued by Oliver Cromwell in 1654.
Where it all started
Licensed Hackney Carriages line up outside the Curfew tower at Windsor Castle. The metal bars can still be found on the hill which were installed for the carriages to rest on and take the weight from the horses. Carriages would take passengers where-ever they wished, using The Long Walk as a thorough fare like all tradesmen.
In 1849, with the redesign of Windsor town all public traffic was prohibited from the Long Walk - however, hackney carriages were granted access and our licence was one of only twelve permitted this privilege.
Taxis become motorised
With the arrival of the motor vehicle, taxi licences began to be transferred from carriage to car. In fact the first motorcar in England was bought by Evelyn Ellis (pictured) in 1895 who lived just 2 miles from Windsor. so we can imagine Windsorians may have been the first to see one!
Permissions to move through private estates, across England, were gradually removed for motor vehicles and in Windsor were not permitted on the Long Walk or Great Park. Only the remaining horse drawn Hackney carriage licensees retained access.
Four carriages remaining
A tourist trade in Windsor begins to grow with only four horse drawn hackney carriages remain for tourist trips as licences revert to motor vehicles once the licensee passed away. Pictured here is George Paget of Eton Wick (Great Uncle to me) driving The Landau which we still have. This carriage was first licensed in 1910 and you can read more here.
The licensees were:
1. Conrad and Marcus Ford of Eton Wick who drove with their single horse Bunty. Known as The Ford Brothers.
2 and 3. George (pictured) and my dad John Seear.
3. A driver we only knew as Doctor Death, which is another story!
The horse drawn taxi rank outside the Curfew Tower is closed and carriages are moved to Castle Hill. This followed quite a few years of being moved around the town as it got busier and busier. For a few years we shared the same 'spot' as the sightseeing buses. This is something which really stayed with me as I disliked seeing my dads horses around the heavy traffic.
A new era
Windsor Carriages moved out of the town to begin tours of the Great Park from the castle, which provided a more peaceful and relaxing location for the horses. Most of our business is now booking only as this enables us to better manage our time and the work schedule of each horse. Something Uncle George couldn't do as the internet had not been thought of yet!