Arts and education charity digital:works has been working with two London primary schools, the London Transport Museum, Unite and cabbies themselves to uncover the history and stories from the lives of cabbies. We have explored the history of the taxi from the perspective of the people who have been driving them for hundreds of years but with particular emphasis on those driving today as well as retired cabbies.
Year 6 children from St George the Martry and Westminster Cathedral Primary Schools worked with historians at the London Transport Museum Depot in Acton to explore the history of the industry. A historian presented this history along with veteran taxi driver Alf Townsend and Unite Education Officer and former cabbie Danny Freeman. Members of the London Vintage Taxi Association came along to show the children cabs dating from the 1930s to the present day, also giving them free rides!
The children also met with other cabbies to find out more about their lives and history.
After these workshops and activities the children worked with digital:works to understand oral history techniques and recording. They then developed interview questions which they used to conduct and record oral history interviews with cabbies.
These interviews have been edited and combined with archive and personal photos as well as archive footgage to make a unique and fascinating educational documentary film starring the cabbies.
The children also produced creative and historical written work inspired by the people they meet and their research on project.
The film is going to be premiered at the London Transport Museum hosted by the children and with an audience of cabbies, historians and the public.
It will also be shown at a number of other events planned at the London Transport Museum as well as at local history groups and film festivals.
The film, writing and artwork will also be on display on this website.
The film will be produced as a DVD which, along with a booklet of the children's writing will be given to all those involved with the project as a big thank you.
The full unedited interviews are now on this website and will also be given to the London Transport Museum for their archive as well as the TUC archives at London Met. The London Transport Museum also has plans to use material generated in this project to launch a new taxi exhibition in the future.
This project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Unite.
The training, workshops and interviews with 26 cabbies are now complete. These are available to listen to on this website and will also be going to the TUC archives and the London Transport Museum Archives.
Some of these have been edited to make a new oral history documentary film which launched on January 12th 2018 at the Cubic Theatre in the London Transport Museum, Covent Garden. A packed audience listened to the children talking about the project, reading some of their work, and then watched the film. We had a lively Q&A with the children and some cabbies afterwards then three brave children stood up and recited some runs that they had memorised! It all ended with a song as we all sang an old music hall song about a trip in a cab from 1910 called "Take me in a Taxi Joe".
You can watch the film now on the film page of this website. We hope you enjoy it as much as we all enjoyed making it.
There are more screenings planned both at the London Transport Museum and elsewhere, and the film is also going to shown on TV on the Community Channel. Watch this space for details. Exhibition posters about the project have also been produced and will be appearing at libraries, schools and museums.
Below are some comments from some of the children involved in the project.
Children talking with cabbies and former cabbies about their working lives.
A Group of cabbies taking part in a reminiscence group.
Children learning film making and oral history skills.
Interviewing Graham Waite, one of 26 cabbies interviewed for the project.
Interviewing Robert lordan
With cabbie Teresa Johnson.
Some of the children waiting to present their project to a packed audience at the London Transport Museum.
Presenting their work!
The exhibition about the project at the London Transport Museum.