Now City Cabs is celebrating its 90th year as one of Edinburgh’s top taxi firms by giving away £10,000 worth of free fares – and a family holiday.
The business first launched in 1925 when 25 drivers came together to form an association, opening their first branch on Easter Road with a deposit of £13 and six shillings.
To mark this year’s milestone, 93 cabs will be offering free taxi journeys throughout the city between 8am and 10pm this Monday – with anyone who books a cab also entered into a prize draw to win a £1000 voucher for a family holiday.
Company secretary Les McVay admitted the anniversary had “crept up” on them. He said: “When you tell people, it raises a few eyebrows that we’ve been around since 1925.
“Now all these new kids on the block are coming through, all these different apps which we have to compete with – we know that. But we always adapt.”
Mr McVay, who has been with City Cabs for 35 years, said the business had “changed greatly” since he was younger – let alone since things first kicked off nine decades ago.
“The demands are a lot greater on drivers and the expectations are a lot greater,” he said. “But one of the things you realise from reading the minute book in 1925 is there’s a lot that’s the same.”
When City Cabs first launched there were 25 association members – made up of those who owned the taxis – and 80 drivers. These days there are 427 members and around 1100 drivers.
Honorary president Alan Moir, from Stockbridge, is City Cabs’ longest-serving employee, having been with the association since 1970.
The 72-year-old grandfather remembers a time when cabs were hailed from special public pay phones placed throughout the city.
He said: “It gets me up and it keeps my brain active. As long as I keep passing my medicals I’ll keep doing it. Most passengers are great with you.”
And both men are optimistic about the future – despite Mr McVay being careful not to race ahead of himself.
On a recent taxi journey, he joked to a pensioner in the back that the next step forward would be to implement a “Beam me up, Scotty”-style system from Star Trek.
The taxi driver was taken aback when the old man leaned forward and solemnly inquired: “So how would that work, son?”