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Title: Cab cultures in Victorian London : horse-drawn cabs, users and the city, ca 1830-1914
Author: Chen, Fu-Chia
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2013
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By scrutinising the contemporary practice and discourse of the nineteenth-century cabbing, this thesis has sought to enhance our understanding of London’s hackney carriages from one place to another particularly by reconsidering some relatively overlooked primary sources and adopting a different methodology from previous researchers. The increasing amount of searchable online databases of newspaper collections, periodicals, diaries, letters, and literature works has opened new practical possibilities to explore the untouched area left by previous works on London’s hackney carriages. Also, the object-in-use, object-in-discourse approach adopted in this study has enabled this thesis to provide new understandings of the practice of cabbing in the Victorian London, the relationship between the cab driver and passenger, and the interaction between the city, the cab, and other forms of public transport in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This study has suggested that London’s hackney carriage kept changing its role to help its clientele cope with the increasingly mobilised/modernised/time-pressured society. It became a coordinator or connection among different modes of transport and communication. In addition, it was often appropriated to fulfil a wide range of tasks essential to the time-conscious, privacy-aware, and privacy-pursuing modern urban life, including policing, delivery, transporting ill and wounded people, and providing a private place for meeting, sleeping, or even committing suicide, making itself indispensable to Victorian Londoners. This study also demonstrated various and dynamic relationships between Victorian cab drivers and passengers. It has shown how the service was constantly debated and negotiated among the administration (usually the police and the magistrates), the trade (usually the drivers), and the public (usually the cab hirers) by examining the highly informative court reports considering the quarrels between the cab drivers and the hirers. The driver-passenger relationship was ephemeral and female cab passengers were vulnerable and unprotected so far assumed has been challenged. Evident has been shown in this study to prove that a long-term, or even friendly relationship between individual driver and passenger existed, that Victorian females not only regularly took horse-drawn cabs but also dared to perform bargaining with the drivers (at times even bilked or sued them), and that our Victorian ancestors had different ways of practicing cabbing to ours (bargaining, tipping, or offering the drivers a meal or a drink…), which helped develop different and more complicated driver-passenger relationships.
Supervisor: Divall, Colin Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available