Invented and patented by Joseph Hansom. This horse-drawn carriage, or cabriolet, had larger wheels and a lower cab,with the driver sitting behind, giving it greater stability and increased speed, with safety. Small and light it required just one horse and was ideal for London's crowded streets. Its popularity spread across Europe and to the US.
In his 1875 ‘The Way We Live Now’ Anthony Trollope describes an assignation reluctantly attended by Paul Montague, who travels there by Hansom cab:
“How quick that cab went! Nothing ever goes so quick as a Hansom cab when a man starts for a dinner-party a little too early; - nothing so slow when he starts too late. Of all cabs this, surely, was the quickest. Paul was lodging in Suffolk Street, close to Pall Mall, - whence the way to Islington, across Oxford Street, across Tottenham Court Road, across numerous squares north-east of the Museum, seems to be long. The end of Goswell Road is the outside of the world in that direction, and Islington is beyond the end of Goswell Road. And yet that Hansom cab was there before Paul Montague had been able to arrange the words with which he would begin the interview. … Paul .. paid the cabman, - giving the man half-a-crown, and asking for no change in his agony….” (p.371-2, vol.1, Penguin 2001)