Find My (Percy) Past

When we bought Percy, he still had his PCO (Public Carriage Office) license plate attached under his rear number plate (now replaced with a pre-war replica), his original Hackney Carriage Certificate of Approval and even insurance note in the driver side partition holder.
So we thought we’d share some of the original paperwork that was granted to Percy and his owner with you.

Hackney Carriage Certificate of Approval Metropolitan Police

Fairway Taxi Hackney Carriage Certificate of Approval back

I would have realised Percy had an alarm if I’d read this!

If only Percy could share some of his stories from his working life.

We’ve also tried to look into what a Fairway Driver Bronze Advantage model had that was different from other models. Although we haven’t found any literature or websites that could shed any light, one of our blog readers (Kabhi2011) who also has a very useful Fairway Driver dedicated website, told us he believes Percy had air conditioning once, due to the extra radiator he has. Cabbie and Cabalcade organiser, Gary, was confident that a Bronze Advantage had air conditioning and possibly air suspension. Now, I’m not sure Percy has any suspension at all judging by his reactions to any bumps, let alone air suspension, but the next time Percy visits Danny the mechanic we might get him to check.

We don’t have any pictures of Percy in his working days, but curiously Nina was watching an old episode of Nigella Express (she’s a British TV chef) on TV one morning when she thought she noticed Nigella in a Fairway Driver Taxi, but not just any Fairway… a Bronze Advantage, of which we have only ever seen one in our 5 years living and working in central London (and that’s Percy!). Just before the TV frame changed, she caught a glimpse of the number plate of this Bronze Advantage Fairway Driver- J9.. DUU.

Now, Percy’s number plate has those exact same characters, so she excitedly thought she had video evidence of Percy in his working day, hurrah!
Not fully convinced, online shopping at it’s best, Amazon to the rescue! Just 2 clicks and she’d bought the Nigella Express Series (at now great expense as it was an old series).
An anxious 2 days passed before the DVD arrived in the post. We immediately put it into the blu ray player and began to fast forward to the correct episode. I have to say, I was quietly hoping it was Percy… how many Fairway Driver taxis, let alone Bronze Advantages, would share over half the characters in their numberplate in the correct order?

Pause, and there it is. Wearing it’s white Olympics advertising, there was a Fairway Driver Bronze Advantage with the numberplate… J925 DUU… so close!

Fairway Driver Nigella Express

Well, the more I thought about it, the more it makes sense, as these probably rolled off the production line one after the other and were probably given a set of number plates with only a few digits difference. So, we in fact have video footage of Percy’s elder brother working the streets of London, and one of his ‘famous’ punters was one Nigella Lawson.
So the search for Percy’s former life goes on. If only there was a “Find My Past” service for old London taxis.

NOT a Fairway Taxi

I have finally repaired Percy’s horn this week. Having believed that I had
accidentally cut the wiring for the horn when installing the front fog light switch, I embarked on removing the dashboard buttons and heating control facia to reconnect the wires I had cut.

30 minutes later, with wiring reconnected, the horn still didn’t work.
I went to investigate under the bonnet, and saw a decent sized klaxon with
a disconnected plug. Well, that could be a very simple explanation for the
horn not working. I connected the plugs and jumped out of my skin,
banging my head on the bonnet, as an almighty screeching siren erupted.
Percy has a car alarm! I immediately disconnected it, while passing pedestrians laughed at my expense.

Apparently some Fairway taxis had car alarms fitted but they were so
unreliable that most driver’s disconnected them.
Danny very kindly pointed out to me that the horn is in fact at the front
of the engine bay by the radiator. As soon as I located it, it was clear that one of the two wires (earth and live) had broken off from the connection. A small piece of gaffer tape did the trick… beep beep.

Now Percy has his voice back, we’re ready to take on the London traffic.
It was the first cricket Test Match of the series between England and New Zealand at Lords a few weeks ago. Driving past the hordes of mostly,
but not all, self important spectators who feel they have a right to walk in the
middle of the main road then stick their arm out expectantly as soon as they spot a cab got me thinking about the London Taxi.

I realise I am driving a car that is entirely synonymous with it’s trade. The London
Taxi, and especially the Fairway, has been around for 55+ years
and having been one of the only vehicles you could buy to license as a
taxi in London it is no surprise that no matter what colour or stickers (or parcel shelf gardens) you put on it people still think you’re a taxi.

In cities like Hong Kong the taxi is simply a Toyota Corolla but in bright
red with a taxi sign. But in london simply the shape of a Fairway is enough. The Taxi or For Hire sign doesn’t even have to be on and people will be hailing you,
especially if it’s raining. Cabbies must wake up and pray for rain
everyday, because on the way home along High Street Kensington Nina literally
went past a guard of honour of ‘punters’ all wanting to hail Percy. It was
interesting to see so many different ‘hailing’ poses/positions.

Fairway Taxi in storm South Kensington London

I shall run through a few of the most popular ones:
Bouncing a basketball
High five
Reaching for a book in the top shelf, sometimes on tip toes
Waving at a friend

We also had one lady send her child to step in front of Percy… not sure that one is advisable. Some brazen people simply open the door. This happened to Nina and the culprit did not seem to understand that you can drive a Fairway without actually being a licensed cabbie. In fact, this was a shock to some of her work colleagues too, who realised that they would happily get into the welcomingly familiar vehicle without a second thought to whether it was licensed or not. They were also thrown by Percy’s replica vintage license plate, despite it looking very different to the current plates.

Percy continues to be a pleasure to own, especially in the slightly warmer temperature. We can really feel he’s a lot more comfortable operating in these conditions than the cold winter which brought on his leaks and affected the charge in is battery.

Fairway Holiday

Percy has just returned from his holiday in the Gatwick South Terminal long-stay car park, where his front wing mirror was rudely realigned by an oversized piece of luggage from the neighbouring Mercedes. I had to stop Percy from rearranging their front bumper with his substantial rear end.

Fairway Taxi Gatwick Long Stay

I had erroneously thought that the long-stay car park was a luxurious (by Percy’s standards anyway) multi-storey car park, protecting cars from the elements, so when we arrived at the outdoor car park I was a little disappointed for Percy as he’s parked on the road normally so under cover would have been a treat. When we were told by my brother-in-law that he had parked his car in the indoor short stay car park for less money I felt even worse.

Anyway, we had an amazing holiday in Spain with Nina’s brother and his family. The children were angels (most of the time) and we had a relaxing break from life in London.

Cumbre del Sol, Benitachell, Alicante, Spain

Percy has always had slightly temperamental front electric windows in that they sometimes refuse to open, but recently they’ve required some strange cajoling to get them to work at all and although they usually open, they don’t always want to shut, seeming to require a certain amount of engine revs to persuade them up. However, they finally gave in yesterday and the driver’s side was stuck half open.

Fairway Driver Taxi electric windows

I can’t find the fuse for it in the fuse box and having spoken to Danny the mechanic, I suspect Percy’s windows are wired differently and they’re not connected to the ignition, as they used to work without the keys even in the ignition. So they’re probably hooked up elsewhere and I think I can see a wire going from the console where the switches are out towards the bonnet/engine bay somewhere.

However, I was probably wrong, as this morning I tried a tip from Danny where I fiddled with a few wires behind the ignition barrel under the steering wheel and voila! the windows came back to life. So a loose connection under the steering wheel is the cause.

It was lucky we’ve got the windows working again as the sunny weather here in London seems to be disappearing and our drive down to Battersea Park today was chillier than any day this week with rain threatening. We met a school friend of mine for Sunday lunch at The Butcher and Grill by Albert Bridge, with Sunday roast lunches all round. I had the beef and Nina and James both had the pork. It was delicious with very impressive cuts of meat, as you’d expect from a butchers, and the gravy was really rich. James had been waiting for us outside until he spotted Percy waiting just down the road and realised we must have already arrived. An added bonus was the lack of traffic, making for an enjoyable journey home for Percy via Sloane Square and Hyde Park Corner.