Metropolitan Motor Cab Co-operative Society

Scope and Content

This collection consists of records created by the Metropolitan Motor Cab Co-operative Society. The records include minutes of the Management Committee and minutes of the Members meetings.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Metropolitan Motor Cab Co-operative Society was first considered at a meeting on 23rd April 1927 to discuss the formation of a motor cab co-operative. A further meeting was held on May 10th 1927 to discuss registration, propaganda leaflets and to vote for a president. 64 members attended the first official meeting on 23rd July 1927, and Mr P Seager was elected the first president. The garage was located in the railway arches at 320a Coldharbour Lane, London S.W.9.

In 1928 new premises were discussed at Downs Park Road to act as a garage for the cabs. Cars were to be supplied by Morris Motors Limited. The society was seen to be struggling in May 1929 due to members not paying shares on a regular basis. There was some debate at the same meeting regarding purchasing of cabs and premises. At the end of 1930 a motion was passed to install six petrol pumps.

A meeting in January 1932 opened with a discussion regarding problems within the society. It was claimed that the society had been on the verge of collapse, but had managed to improve over the previous twelve months. A project was also discussed to promote the society in an attempt to attract new members. In 1934 an appeal was made to members to pay in their share capital to enable the society to purchase a larger fleet of cabs. At this time the society had forty-five cabs, five of which were the societies. Thirty-one cars and four motorcycles were also parked in the garage. 1936 saw a major re-shuffle of offices with Mr Goatman being elected as president.

April 1938 saw a slump in trade, it was noted at the meeting of 30th April that the slump was not confined to the society and had been noted by other companies. Petrol pumps were also being replaced at this time. The meeting of 23rd July 1938 noted that cab earnings were in decline due to the signs of international unrest. The society officially registered with the Co-operative Movement during this year.

In January 1939 it was proposed to acquire a number of new cabs at the rate of one per month. It was also suggested that there be an amalgamation of co-operative interests in the cab trade around London. October 1939 saw petrol rationing for the drivers, and credit for customers being stopped.

In January 1940 questions were raised over the taking over of cabs from men who had been called up for service. The repair shop had failed and members were asked to forego share interest. The meeting of 27th April 1940 saw recommendations that the society acquire new premises, which would allow the society to prosper at a faster rate, therefore members were asked to wait until sufficient capital had been built up. A report made on 26th October 1940 showed that there were problems with petrol deliveries due to air raids, which resulted in the society being unable to supply customers and staff having to purchase petrol from other garages, paying full price.

At the meeting of 7th February 1942 it was recommended that the society be put into the hands of the official receivers. The society had got into debt and shareholders had not paid up their holdings. It was further suggested to send statements of accounts and analyses of shareholders to the Co-op Union for advise on whether it was worth attempts to continue the business. An agreed scheme of cut backs was decided to allow the society to carry on until advice was provided.

The society opened their first deposit account with the CWS bank in 1944, as a part of the drive to improve their financial situation. Before this they had used capital to buy cabs. In February 1946 the society was in a position to advertise for fitters, washers and painters to maintain the cabs. In April 1946 it was suggested that the society approached other London Co-operative societies with regard to their taking up membership of the Metropolitan Motor Cab Co-operative Society.

By 1951 the society was looking to expand the business and premises in Brixton, as there had been a substantial increase in turnover. Although by April 1953 it was recommended that the cab operations be ceased and only the garage kept open, this was strongly opposed as the original intention of the society was to run cabs for drivers to earn a wage from. It was also suggested that wireless radios be fitted to all the cabs, as they had been successful in other companies.In January 1955 a diesel cab was brought to the society for consideration. During this time the society had shown a profit and added eight new cabs to the fleet.

In 1958 discussions were underway regarding the purchase of houses for the society, it was put to a vote and the decision to purchase houses rather than another garage was passed. It was still undecided whether to install radios in the cabs during 1958, but it was decided to provide the drivers with industrial clothing in the form of a blue raincoat. In July 1958 it was proposed that the purchase of houses did not go ahead as new cabs were a more urgent necessity. The society had also become members of the Unity Theatre and advertised to the members that anyone could see the shows.

By October 1959 alterations were being considered for the garage. The arches were to become a Body shop and Workshop. A spray shop was to be installed in the Body shop. However, the improvements had to be forestalled due to British Rail informing the society that they intended to demolish and re-build the station in 1960.

In 1962 the society held their first Dinner Dance, which was a success, it was proposed that the society should in future pay for the cost of running the dance rather than members contributing towards it. The society would also pay for the band, prizes and printing of tickets, all members would have to pay for would be the meal. The society changed over to Halda Clocks in this year, and was pleased with the Ministry of Transport tests being carried out on the cabs.

In 1963 the discussion of premises arose again, with members wanting their own premises rather than renting. It was decided that costs were too high and was evidenced with problems that had been encountered with the Clapham society who owned their own premises. Work had still not been completed on the Barrington Road houses for the society, it was noted that for forty years, development of this site had been discussed. It was proposed that the gardens could be leased to the society for their own use.

In April 1970 part of the railway parapet came through the roof of the body shop, no-one was hurt and the railway were informed of repairs needed to the damage. In May the repair work had still not been completed, and the matter was taken up with British Rail. In January 1971 it was decided not to increase fares until after decimalisation. The drought in the summer of 1976 posed problems for the washer employees. It was noted in August that washing was done only when necessary, and that washing would carry on until the order to stop had been implemented on the 3rd September 1976. The society prospered through the 1970's and paid bonuses to staff at Christmas, and for long term service.

The above history was summarised from: Metropolitan Motor Cab Co-operative Society Management Committee meetings, and Members meetings.


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Archivist's Note

Description compiled June 2009 by Lesley Mills, volunteer at National Co-operative Archive.

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