I was recently given a document written by Hilda Fletcher (1925-2017) about her husband’s time at Streamline Taxis. Here is an abridged version.

Harry Fletcher (1914-1995) worked for Streamline Taxis from 1949-1956. He learnt to drive in the early 1930’s before the driving test was introduced.

The taxi rank was in Ogle Road and the front driver would answer the phone in a box which had a direct line to the office in Hanover Buildings.

He normally worked from 4pm till late and for the first two years worked every day. Harry had to provide his own dark suit and cap.

With a second child on the way we were on the council housing list and staying in the old Workhouse in St. Mary’s Street, now City College.

We then moved to a new house in Somerton Avenue - what luxury with two loos and a large garden.

Thursdays were very busy, often with one of the ‘Queens’ or a Union Castle ship from South Africa.

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The Americans were good tippers as they couldn't work out £.s.d. One evening Harry was at Ocean Terminal when the ‘Lizzie’ docked. A chauffeur asked him “want a run to London as we are short of a car?” Harry had to follow 3 Rolls Royce’s taking Bob Hope to the Savoy.

Another time Harry came home with 2 Americans who couldn't find a room and slept on our sofas. They kept in touch for years sending a Christmas parcel for our boys.

The crews would want taking to the ‘local attractions’. They might pay in kind - one night Harry came home with a complete stalk of bananas! As for those attractions some of the liveliest pubs were the Horse and Groom in East Street, the Juniper Berry and the Sussex at 86-88 Above Bar Street opposite the present entrance to the Marlands. It stood alone amongst the bomb sites and was frequented by the ‘ladies of the night’.

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There was also German Edies by East Park, a late opening restaurant run by a large woman who, if she disliked you, would throw you out along with your food. She also cut men’s ties off and pinned them to the wall.

A regular run was to the Botleigh Grange Hotel for businessmen. Harry would have a drink and wait for the return trip. Sometimes it would be the Polygon Hotel which had a chauffeur’s bar.

His only traffic offence was for speeding over the old Northam Bridge at 4am.

They drove Standard Vanguards with a cream bonnet, an illuminated roof sign and some had roof racks. The office manager was Norman Crisp who became well known for writing scripts for television dramas. He would incorporate the names of real drivers into his work.

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When Harry started there was no salary, sick or holiday pay, just a percentage of takings plus tips. He helped start the Taxi Drivers’ Association to get better conditions. There was no limit to driving hours and Harry was earning twice the average wage so we saved up for a new Ford car.

Harry would say “working late tonight” which meant we were saving for a treat. Our first holiday was to Jersey and in 1954 we bought a television from a shop in Woolston. They put a huge aerial on our roof so we could watch 4 hours of fuzzy programmes a day.

In 1956 we were building a bungalow in Hedge End when the Suez Crisis started and there was only petrol for work on one day a week. So Harry became a Co-operative store grocery manager in the Bitterne and Wodehouse Road stores.

And the phrase ‘Pull round’? It caught on with our boys because, while we were out in the car, Harry would say it each time a car horn sounded. Apparently, while on the taxi rank, if you didn't move forward the car behind would toot you. If the driver was taking a break you just waved the taxi past.

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Martin Brisland is a tour guide with SeeSouthampton.co.uk .