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The world through the eyes of the man behind Hubbard's cabs in Sittingbourne

by Christine Rayner

Percy Hubbard was an astute businessman whose professional life took a new direction when he spotted a change in social trends at the turn of the 19th Century.

He arrived in Sittingbourne in 1895 to work as a saddler and within five years had established a business, but slowly began to realise that the world was changing from a “horse-centred” to a more mechanically dominated lifestyle.

Instead of fighting the trend, Percy (pictured) sensibly decided to join the motoring fraternity and set up a taxi company which lasted for decades and operated throughout the town and across to Sheppey.

Percy Hubbard pictured in 1962
Percy Hubbard pictured in 1962

Perhaps you remember taking a ride in a Hubbard’s cab.

My old friend Alan Amos certainly remembers the company rank outside Sittingbourne station and kindly lent me a photograph of it, taken I believe in the 1960s, judging by the cars.

Thankfully, Percy was far-seeing enough to write down his thoughts on the changing world around him and the result is a book just published by Sittingbourne Heritage Museum.

It takes the form of a narrative describing a walk from Bapchild to Holly Bank Hill, noting the businesses and personalities he knew so well along the way.

What a brilliant thing to have done, so important in recording social history.

The taxi rank (5431353)
The taxi rank (5431353)

Percy’s writings date from 1961, eight years before his death, and have been transcribed by his granddaughter.

They are accompanied in the book by a series of photographs illustrating the scenes he mentions in his narrative.

This is bound to bring back memories for many who know this route through town so well.

The book, “A walk through Sittingbourne in days gone by”, costs £5.95 from the museum, or other selected outlets. Perfect for Christmas!

To read more about about Kent's history visit our nostalgia page.

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