"Despite all the advances in car manufacture and heavy vehicles such as lorries and buses over the past fifty years, they don't make drivers today that can match the skill of drivers then. In my young days, a driver of an articulated lorry could spin on a sixpence while eating a jam butty.
For three years during the early 1960s, I drove taxis between 10.00 pm and 1.00 am to earn some extra money to save for my bottom drawer. I drove for Charlies' Taxis, who had a small hut near the old Cleckheaton Bus Station. My wage was one shilling and thruppence per hour, plus any tips the customer gave us. There was no taxi licence or age requirement then as far as Charlie was concerned, so long as you could handle his Cortina vehicles. He had three taxis, the newest being seven years old and the oldest, twelve years. The longest-serving taxi driver got the best car and the newcomer got the worst vehicle.
Charlie lived his life (or rather got by) and operated his three-car taxi business on a shoe-string budget. None of his cars was ever road worthy and God only knows what would have happened had some taxi driver or passenger incurred a serious or fatal accident, as Charlie had no medical insurance to cover that eventuality. Why I've known him get prosecuted a number of times for having no car insurance or road tax. As for 'making do', unless the tyres on the taxis had done 50,000 miles, they were staying. Many were the time when I did a complete U-turn in the road on bald tyres. One passenger once berated me saying,'Hey, mate. I paid to get straight home to Heckmondwike, not have a spin on the Waltzer!' I even recall arriving back to the taxi hut one night it had been snowing, and as I drove through the bus station, three of my four car tyres were so bald that they had each caught fire!
All drivers were bolder and some might say, dafter in those days. I was even told by an old resident of Haworth who was in his nineties that buses have been known to drive up the steep cobbled incline of Main Street in the snow as a matter of course. I also heard of the Haworth bus driver learner-test. When a learner driver was able to travel across the narrow route of Black Moor Road and pass an oncoming bus on a snowy day; only then could he be considered as ready to take his standard test, and he'd be allowed a provisional licence until he got more advanced.
These modern drivers don't know they're born today!" William Forde: March 1st, 2018.