Main content

The rise of Uber and the plight of London's watermen

Jonathan Freedland compares the plight of today's black cab drivers with the fate of London's watermen in 1750, when new bridges threatened their livelihood.

Jonathan Freedland compares the plight of black cab drivers with the fate of London's watermen.
For centuries watermen had a monopoly on Thames river crossings until advances in new technology allowed for bridges to be built across the river in the mid 18th Century. The men who ferried passengers on the Thames lost their jobs and livelihood.
Today, technology threatens the modern day taxi business with the rise of smartphone app Uber and the dawn of the driverless car.
As automation and artificial intelligence technologies improve, Jonathan Freedland and panellists explore what history can tell us about how workers might fare today.

Producer: Sarah Shebbeare.

Available now

28 minutes