Cab – a Shortening of Cabriolet in the Nineteenth Century

A type of fly, quick and light one-horse drawn carriage. It features a closed square box in a square frame with two wheels as high as the vehicle. Inside the cab, there was enough space for two, up to three passengers (if squeezed).

A hansom cab, London, 1877. Photo from 1877: John Thomson (1837-1921) – London Cabmen Uploaded by Fæ. Public domain. Photo source:“Hansom cab” (2020). In Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

They were protected by a high hood separating them from the driver operating the vehicle from a high sprung seat behind the body. The passengers could communicate with the driver through a trap door near the rear of the roof. The cab could be either open or closed; except from the hood, the passengers were additionally protected from the elements by folding wooden doors that enclosed their feet and legs, protecting their clothes from splashing mud.

The cab was introduced in England in the 1830s and was used as a carriage until the beginning of the twentieth century. It was designed and patented by Joseph Hansom, an architect from York. Hence the carriage was originally called hansom-cab.

Hansom cab and driver in a movie set in 1903 London. Photo by Andrew Dunn (2004). CC BY-SA 2.0. Photo source: “Hansom cab” (2020). In Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

Featured image: Specification drawings for Hansom’s patent cab 1834. It was for one passenger protected by a high hood which separated them from the driver at his side and had a square body in a square frame with wheels as high as the vehicle. Internet Archive Book Images: “Social England : a record of the progress of the people in religion, laws, learning, arts, industry, commerce, science, literature and manners, from the earliest times to the present day Year: 1901 (1900s)”. Authors: Traill, H. D. (Henry Duff), 1842-1900 Mann, James Saumarez, Publisher: New York: Putnam Contributing Library: University of California Libraries. No restrictions. Image cropped. Drawing source: “Hansom cab” (2020). In Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.


“Hansom cab” (2020). In Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <>. [Accessed 30th January, 2021].

PWN (2007). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, p. 57. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *