“Sherbet Dab” is a new oral history project which explores the history of the London cabbie.
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 Martyr 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!
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 footage 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 was premiered at the London Transport Museum on 12th January 2018, 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 the project website.
The film was 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 the project 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.