Geek Trivia

Prior to 1976, London Cab Drivers Could Be Fined For Not Keeping What In Their Cab?

Smelling Salts
Change for Every Currency
A Picture of the Queen
Which Animals Form The Largest Colonies?

Answer: Corn

There is a persistent urban legend around London that cabbies are required to keep a whole bale of hay secreted in the trunk of their taxis. It isn’t true, the cabbies aren’t required to keep hay, grasses, corn, or any other livestock feed in their trucks, but the urban legend has legitimate roots.

Up until the 1970s, there was a law on the books in London that allowed for taxis to be inspected (and drivers to be fined) for not carrying a sufficient supply of… corn, oats, or hay. The law, as you can imagine, was never enforced and was the vestige of the age before automobiles. Per regulations in the 1831 London Hackney Carriage Act, the operators of horse-drawn taxis were required to keep enough livestock feed on their cab to provide for the horse’s midday feeding (and, under the same Act, were required to feed the horses from their hands as to not clutter up the street with feed buckets and piles of hay).

Despite the decline of horse-drawn anything around London, the law sat on the books well into the 20th century. Only in 1976 did a bit of legislative housekeeping strike the law and let every London cabby rest easy knowing there was no chance they’d ever lose some shillings over a trunk unladen with feed.

Image by Andrew Dunn.