Joseph Aloysius Hansom (1803-1882)

Joseph Aloysius Hansom is best known as the inventor of the Hansom Cab, which became so popular in the Victorian period

Joseph Aloysius Hansom (1803-1882)
Joseph Aloysius Hansom (1803-1882)

26th October 1803 Joseph Hansom was born in Micklegate (North Yorkshire), he was the son of a builder and eventually became a freeman of York.

1825 Joseph moved and settled in Halifax, Yorkshire, he became an architect's apprentice and in the same year he married Hannah Glover at St. Michael le Belfrey in York.

1828 Joseph entered into partnership with Edward Welch, and together they built churches and public buildings in Scotland and Northern England.

1834 Joseph and Edward won the competition to build the Birmingham town hall, but mismanaged the project and went bankrupt.

Joseph abandoned architecture for a while as he was invited to manage the business affairs of a local man, Dempster Heming of Caldecote Hall (near Nuneaton, Warwickshire), who was in the process of setting up a bank in nearby Hinckley (Leicestershire). Joseph lived with the Heming family at Caldecote Hall. Dempster Heming was later to make use of Joseph's architectural skills to convert a suitable building into a bank.

23rd December 1834 Joseph registered his idea of the 'patent safety cab', patent number 6733. Safety features included a suspended axle while the larger wheels and lower position of the cab led to less wear and tear as well as fewer accidents.

1836 The first Hansom Cab was built in Hinckley. The Safety Cabriolet & Two-Wheel Carriage Company was formed with capital of £100,000 (nearly £4.5m in today's money). Joseph never made much money from it, he sold the design for £10,000 to a company which then got into difficulties and could not pay him. By the end of the century, there were more than 7,000 Hansoms in London and became a well-known part of the Victorian street scene.

Joseph went back to his architectural work, specialising in buildings for the Roman Catholic Church.

1838 Joseph was the architect for the Hinckley Workhouse which was built along London Road, it was to provide accommodation for 450 inmates.

29th June 1882 Joseph Hansom died at 399 Fulham Road, London.

Joseph would have the small shopping centre 'Hansom Court' named after him and recently a Hungrey Horse outlet called 'Hansom Cab' named after his famous invention. A Blue Plaque has been placed on the side of the Natwest Bank in The Borough in Hinckley.


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