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Welcome to month eight of London Town, London Transport.


This month we're going to be exploring London's busy streets by jumping onto a double-decker bus and, firstly, by hailing a black cab.


The ‘black cab’ - officially known as a Hackney Carriage - has its origins in the horse-drawn hackney coaches which plied their trade on the streets of London in Tudor times. Hackney comes from the Norman French word hacquenee, a horse for hire. The rather wonderfully named Fellowship of Master Hackney Coachmen was established by Act of Parliament in 1654.


In the 19th century the French cabriolet arrived in London: faster and cheaper than the old hackney coaches, its popularity gave us the modern word ‘cab’. Motor cabs took over in the 20th century and, in the straightened years after the Second World War, were nearly always sold in black, giving rise to the nickname ‘black cab’. In 1958 the most popular model of all time – the Austin FX4 – was introduced and became the most recognisable cab in London.


Their drivers, the Cabbies, are just as famous as the cabs. To gain membership into the Worshipful Company of Hackney Carriage Drivers a Cabby must pass the Knowledge of London, learning 320 routes through 25,000 streets - and all the major sights in between - off by heart.


An equally iconic vehicle on London’s streets are its double-decker buses. The first double-decker was actually a two-level horse-drawn carriage introduced in 1826 Nantes by Frenchman Stanislas Baudry, who called his service the Omnibus (‘for all’ in Latin). London coachbuilder George Shillibeer began his service three years later and, unlike the long-established stage coach services, allowed his passengers to hail the vehicle at any point on the route. The idea caught on and by 1832 there were 400 horse-drawn buses operating in London.


In 1905 the pioneering London Motor Omnibus Company painted their vehicles red and used numbers to identify routes. As they merged with rival companies over the next decade the red double-decker became ubiquitous, jostling with London’s black cabs on the city’s busy streets.

We're creating our iconic vehicles in Tilda's navy Neighbourhood print - a little artistic licence there - and cheery red Applegarden. Refer back to Month 5 - Parliament Square - for tips before appliquéing the wheels (you'll be needing your daintiest sherry glass for the double-decker).

This month's technique...

This month I want to share a photo showing how I lined up the window stanchions on my double decker block...


And look out for our final London Town badge in your parcel this month...


Laura (who's definitely earned the front seat on the top deck) has noticed a typo on page 47 of the Double Decker directions: In step six you should join a 1¾” x 10½” red piece - cut in step one - not 2” x 10½” as shown. Thanks Laura!

PS: There's an additional half yard of background fabric and a long quarter of the Elanora print in this month's parcels, set these aside for the border.

London Town: month 8

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