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Category Archives: Glimpse of the past

Sherbert Dab: An Oral History of the London Taxi

In autumn 2017 I was honoured to participate in a project named ‘Sherbert Dab: An Oral History of the London Taxi’ (Sherbet Dab being Cockney rhyming slang for cab).

Organised by the educational charity, Digital Works in conjunction with Unite and the London Transport Museum, this ambitious venture introduced 26 London cabbies to pupils from St George the Martyr school, Holborn and Westminster Cathedral school, Pimlico.

The children conducted in-depth interviews with each of the London taxi drivers, covering topics such as family backgrounds, what it was like to study The Knowledge in their particular era, interesting stories which have occurred whilst driving a cab and much, much more.

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All of these interviews- which together consist of many hours worth of material- can now be listened to online and are a real treasure trove.

Many of those interviewed are true veterans of the industry: Stanley Roth for example, who started driving in 1957 is believed to be the longest serving cabbie working in London today, whilst 84 year old Trinidadian, Vasco Figueria was one of the earliest West Indian drivers to qualify when he passed The Knowledge in the early 1960s.

To listen to these interviews, please click here.

Each interview was also recorded on film and the pupils have edited this extensive footage into a wonderful, highly professional 54 minute film which is insightful, moving, funny and a real testament to the skill of these incredible youngsters.

The film, which premiered on the 12th January 2018 at the London Transport Museum’s Cubic Theatre, can be viewed in full here.

All of the Sherbet Dab interviews will be going into the archives of both the TUC and the London Transport Museum.

Enjoy!

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Glimpse of the past…. Eerie Mannequins, a Halloween Special

In March 1925 a huge fire erupted at Madame Tussauds, the famous waxwork museum on Marylebone Road.

The fire at Madame Tussauds, March 1925 (image: Copyright London Illustrated News)

So intense was the blaze that flames leapt up to 5o feet into  the air and, according to a report in the Manchester Guardian, one eyewitness who lived opposite said the “wax models could be distinctly heard sizzling.

The two unsettling images below depict damaged dummies which were salvaged from the building’s smouldering ruins.

Sleep tight….

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Glimpse of the past…Puppy Seller, Shoreditch 1946

It’ll sound unethical (and rightly so) to today’s sensibilities, but for many years Club Row in Shoreditch hosted a pet market every Sunday where punters could buy anything from the tiniest of birds to a fully grown monkey. In 1953 journalist Kaye Webb wrote that “A cacophony of whimpers, yaps, yelps and just plain barking will guide you to the spot…

The market survived until 1983 when new laws banning the sale of live animals on the street were introduced.

The photograph below was taken by the American Life magazine in 1946.

Puppy seller, Club Row 1946 (copyright Life Magazine)