Joseph Aloysius Hansom

A Hansom cab from about 1890 - York Castle Museum

1803AD - 1882AD

Born in Micklegate, Joseph Hansom was the son of a builder and became a freeman of York.  After showing flair for design he became an architect’s apprentice and moved to Halifax.

In 1828 he entered into partnership with Edward Welch, and together they built churches and public buildings in Scotland and Northern England.  The pair won the competition to build Birmingham town hall but mismanaged the project and went bankrupt in 1834.

That same year Hansom registered his idea of the ‘patent safety cab’. Safety features included a suspended axle, while the larger wheels and lower position of the cab led to less wear and tear and fewer accidents.

Although the Hansom cab became a ubiquitous part of the Victorian street scene - the 'black cab' of its day - he never made much money from it.  Hansom sold the design for £10,000 to a company which then got into difficulties and couldn't pay him.

He resumed his architectural work, specialising in buildings for the Roman Catholic church.


  • York Castle Museum
    There is an original Hansom Cab in the Victorian Street of the Castle Museum

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