Founding members from left, George Frost, Peter Haynes, Eric Tice, Archie McCall, Charlie Dickson and Alex Webster
The driving force behind Edinburgh taxi firm Central Taxis marked half a century of hailed hackney cabs with a surprise lunch for the founding members at Prestonfield. The company started as a co-operative with just 33 members, but has now been whizzing passengers through the streets of Edinburgh for 50 years.
The savvy drivers who came together to form the firm realised the power of a fleet was stronger than one lone motorist and to honour the gents who created a solid foundation for ferrying fares from Liberton to Leith, Central’s core committee treated the original crew to a show of vintage cabs from through the ages and a slap-up five-star meal at Prestonfield House Hotel.
Archie Mccall, 80, has been driving for 53 years and he said it was the best job in the world. “I can’t remember the amount of people who I’ve picked up, but there have been a number of famous faces in there,” he said. “But at about 15 fares a day, it is upwards of 200,000 jobs. It’s amazing who you pick up in the back of a taxi and the things you’ve seen.Both his sons followed him into the trade and are happy to praise the benefits and the flexibility taxi driving gives. His son Keith Mccall said: “I always said I was never going to be a taxi driver, but after having a young family [driving] taxis was a fairly flexible living and I joined the family business and here we are. My brother Brian is still with Central too. “My dad was the 37th member, so I still have call sign P37 in the company.”
Edinburgh born-and-bred Eric Tice, who started driving in 1965, was one of the original founding members. He still drives for the company today. Mr Tice said the industry had changed due to levels of competition in the market, but over five decades the punters he picked up had not. “Wild nights are still wild nights and the visitors we get still comment on what a beautiful city it is and the stunning architecture,” he said. “The only difference I’ve noticed is it’s been a long time since I’ve last heard someone comment on how well looked after and tidy the city is.”
A vintage Fairway LTI from 1992, an 80-year-old Beardmore and a Jones Lowloader from 1938 sat proudly outside Prestonfield House as past and existing co-operative committee met to celebrate the milestone.
Central Taxis chairman Tony Kenmuir said: “We’re very affectionate towards the founder members of the company. “There were only 30 taxis in the company when it started in 1968 and now there’s 500 taxis, 1,200 drivers and 70 staff in the office.”
Central Taxis will be doing more to celebrate its 50th Anniversary throughout the year.