Remembrance Day Tribute to Legion Cabs Co-founder "Ted" Anderson

10 November 2015 | NSW Taxi Council

Edward James “Ted” Anderson was a returned serviceman with the RAAF who’s uncle was Private James Martin, the youngest recorded Australian to die in active service, aged just 14 years and three months.

Ted was also a founder of Sydney’s Legion Cabs and is a key figure in the ongoing links between the NSW Taxi Industry and Australia’s armed forces.

Ted, who passed away in 1987, obtained his licence in 1947 via a ballot and many of his son Phil’s earliest memories are of the “iron lungs” which his father operated from the family home in Sefton, Western Sydney.

“We referred to our taxis as the iron lungs of the family because when the vehicles were on the road, they were our livelihood,” Phil said.

“They supported us and put food on the table. A lot has changed in the industry, but that’s one thing that remains the same for taxi families these days.”

Phil also drove a cab for several years before he left Sydney and spoke of his father’s taxi radio number as something with personal significance.

“The significance of the number 41 has always been with me and I use it to this day in various ways in my everyday life,” Phil said.

“It’s a special number for me and in some ways it’s a shame that they don’t use the radio numbers for drivers in Sydney any more. In Lismore, where I now live, the drivers still use the radio numbers.”

Ted co-founded Legion Cabs by building a shed on Crown Street, Surry Hills, and establishing the company in the only way he knew how – on the foundation of hard work.

Crown Street, Surry Hills
The original Sydney Legion Cabs garage on Crown Street, Surry Hills

Ted loved flying and retained that love throughout his life, juggling his time as a taxi operator with a role as a flying instructor at nearby Bankstown Airport.

He clearly translated his airplane mechanic skills to road vehicles too, with his skills keeping him in good stead as an operator with vehicles that were a lot less reliable than today’s vehicles.

His first taxi vehicle was a dodge luxury liner before a succession of Holden vehicles hitting Sydney’s streets as part of Sydney’s expanding and burgeoning public transport network.

“The transmissions in some of the old Holdens weren’t the best in those days, so my Dad’s mechanic skills definitely came to fore,” Phil said.

“I clearly remember the 3pm change over from day to night driver. Mum would make afternoon tea for the drivers – one would be finishing the day shift, while the night driver would be ready to start his.

“While they were having a feed, my Dad was often out changing the vehicle transmission so it’d be ready for the next shift. 

Legion vehicle
One of Ted Anderson's Legion taxis at the Sefton family residence, Western Sydney 

Phil highlighted the importance of occasions such as Remembrance Day being recognised by institutions such as the NSW Taxi Industry and remembered the significance of social events and the family focus, which Legion always made a great effort to maintain.

“The taxi industry has always been great in keeping the traditions alive and recognising the ties with returned servicemen. Legion even had a branch in Alice Springs for a while.”

“It’s always brought the old diggers along and they’ve always been great at times like Remembrance Day and of course ANZAC Day.

“So many people really appreciate what the taxi industry does and I think that recognition does get lost to a degree.”