15th July 2017

Here is a  button with quite a story.  I read about this button in a Button Club magazine from over 10 years ago,  and so recognised it when it came up for auction.

The button came a 3/4 inch and 1 inch size; this one is 1 inch.  It has a silvered front with a brass back plate and copper wire shank.

It belongs to the Yellow Cab Company,  and was made by Stokes and Sons,  Melbourne.

In early 1924 Mr Pearson William Tewkesbury proposed to introduce to Australia the “Chicago Yellow” cab.  He had already been involved several other taxi companies,  the City Motor Service Ltd. (from 1911) and the Royal Blue Motor Service Pty. Ltd. (from 1921) in Melbourne,  and the de Luxe in Sydney.  This company,  ‘The Yellow Cabs of Australia Limited ‘,  was the first in Australia to run meter-operated cabs,  and did not to charge the customer for the return journey when the cab was empty!  This was achieve by locating various depots in the suburbs so the taxi could wait at the nearest location rather than return to the city.

The Mail (Adelaide) 1st March 1924.

Mr Tewkesbury, 1949.













The company commenced operations in Melbourne in October 1924,  12 months later in Sydney,  and by 1926 in Brisbane,  Adelaide and Perth.  The taxis were custom built A2 Broughams,  imported from the United States.  The driver had the luggage compartment along side him in the front,  with a window separating him from the passengers behind.  The meter was fitted in the front next to the window by the driver.  The driver wore distinctive brown uniforms including caps.  By 1938 the drivers were allowed to drive in khaki shirts and ties,  without coats, in the heat of summer.  In July 1942 the company employed women as drivers for the first time.  They too wore uniforms.

From the State Library of South Australia.

From the State Library of Western Australia.  In1948 the uniform was updated (see below).

The Sun (Sydney) 10th March 1948.

Interestingly,  this was not the first Yellow Cab Company in Australia.  From September 1921 William Grimes Baily ran a company of this name.  He used a fleet of Dodge taxi-cabs.  In October 1922 he repainted the taxis black and white and changed the name to the Black and White taxi company,  claiming the  Sydney sunshine was fading the paint!

The Sun (Sydney), 7th September 1921.

The Sun (Sydney), 28th October 1922.





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