Bloomsday for Cab Drivers / 19: The Fourwheeler / 1
Previous page Next page Bloomsday for Cab Drivers Taxi Library Home

Click on the picture to see a larger version.
Gresham Hotel, Dublin, circa 1900.

Two jaunting cars and a fourwheeler occupy a "hazard" in the middle of O'Connell Street. In cities where streets were wide enough cab stands were often placed in middle lanes to keep curb lanes free for customer and delivery access to businesses.

Reproduction rights owned by National Library of Ireland (call no. LNS5449).
Click here to view source.

Bloomsday for Cab Drivers / 19

The Fourwheeler / 1

The jaunting car did not have the Dublin cab trade entirely to itself. Its advantages were lightness and speed (unless loaded down with four passengers) but it was uncomfortable to ride on, especially in cold or wet weather, and it did not have much carrying capacity for luggage.

If you had a lot of luggage, or if you wanted to stay dry in the rain, or if you didn't want to risk being hurled into space on a sharp turn, you would hire the larger, slower and more comfortable "fourwheeler":

But as he confidently anticipated, there was not a sign of a Jehu plying for hire anywhere to be seen except a fourwheeler, probably engaged by some fellows inside on a spree, outside the North Star Hotel and there was no symptom of its budging a quarter of an inch when Mr. Bloom, who was anything but a professional whistler, endeavoured to hail it by emitting a kind of whistle, holding his arms arched over his head, twice. [16 24 / 25423]

In Dublin as in London, the standard way of hailing a cab was to whistle for it. If you weren't a "professional whistler" you could buy a special cab whistle for the purpose.

In London, where thick fog often prevented drivers and fares from spotting each other, a cab whistle was almost a necessity.

One whistle blast was the signal for a London fourwheeler, while two blasts summoned a Hansom. Presumably similar signals were used in Dublin for jaunting cars and fourwheelers.

The word "Jehu" was a joking nickname cab drivers. It was a biblical reference, taken from the second book of Kings, chapter 9, verse 20: "the driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi; for he driveth furiously."

Previous page Next page Bloomsday for Cab Drivers Taxi Library Home