Remembering the taxi drivers’ outings to Southport
For several years, a popular fixture of most taxi drivers’ calendars was a trip to the seaside. Instead of being a typical seaside jolly, there would be no cases piled in the boot. Nor would its passengers be couples or families hoping to make rail, air or coach connections. Instead its passengers would be underprivileged or disabled children living locally. They may have been ferried to and from schools by the same drivers.
The Tameside area is no exception. Ashton’s taxi drivers would pick up its passengers from their respective homes and assemble at the car park on Camp Street [Ashton-under-Lyne]. What would normally be Jack’s grey Ford Sierra on a school day would be transformed beyond recognition. The grey would be decked out in psychedelic colours akin to a carnival float. Minicabs and black cabs alike take part with the customary black replaced by a Walt Disney background or the like. Balloons and streamers would by waving from the windows in a most joyous occasion, both for the driver and its passenger(s).
With all the cars fully assembled at Camp Street, all drivers would travel to Southport in convoy. They would hoot all the way from Ashton up to the M67 motorway. In the 1980s they would head towards the M67 or M63 via Birch Lane [Dukinfield]. The noise was nothing short of unbelievable yet joyous with all the multicoloured cabs passing. The outing would often take place during the Whitsun half term holidays.
I never had the joys of embarking in one of these outings, though was fortunate enough to borrow a video of one in 1987. It neatly displaced Where There’s Life or Top of the Pops from that night’s viewing (it was a Thursday when I borrowed it), covering all aspects of the outing within an hour, from assembly to arrival in Southport. The end of the film would show the children eating ice cream and enjoying themselves at Pleasureland. Back in 1987, being filmed with a video camera seemed a novelty to a nation weaning itself off Super 8 cinefilm.
In most urban areas throughout the UK, the taxi drivers’ outings for disabled and underprivileged children remain a popular part of the cabbies’ calendar. In 2011, a similar scheme in Glasgow celebrated its 66th year.
Down to you…
I would love to hear your memories of these excursions, whether you’re a driver or a former passenger. Feel free to reminisce.
S.V., 29 April 2011.