PROUD Bill Chandler is celebrating an amazing milestone as the longest-serving Hackney Carriage driver in Southend - and he insists he has no plans to give up after 60 years on the roads. 

Bill, 77, got his licence way back on October 21, 1963, at just 17-and-a-half years old, making him the youngest driver to get a licence in the city at the time.

Echo: Back in the day - Bill Chandler with one of his cabsBack in the day - Bill Chandler with one of his cabs (Image: Carol Murphy)

He took the plunge to become a taxi driver after following in his dad’s footsteps and says he has always taken pride in showing newcomers and tourists around Southend, especially the seafront because of its “charm and beauty”.

Mr Chandler said: “Being a taxi driver has always been in my blood.

“My dad Jack started Chandler’s Radio Taxis in 1962, and my brother John joined in the same year at 19. I started in 1963.

“I’ve always loved meeting people from all walks of life, hearing the stories they’ve got to tell and, of course, driving - so a taxi driver was perfect for me.

“After 13 years, he sold out the business and joined AC Radio Cabs, and I’ve been working there ever since.

“I feel very proud to be the longest Hackney Cab licence holder in the city, but my thanks go to all of the people who have got in my cab over the years and made the experience so wonderful.

“Having a smile, excellent communication skills and being prepared to put your social life on hold is the secret to a great taxi driver, which is why I’ve no plans on giving up yet.”

Mr Chandler, an avid West Ham, admitted he loves the daily chats with customers and “really enjoys it when football is the topic of discussion with his passengers”.

Echo: Fan - Bill and his son outside West Ham's ground, the London StadiumFan - Bill and his son outside West Ham's ground, the London Stadium (Image: Carol Murphy)

When asked about how the job has changed over the last 60 years, he added that “not much has changed because you’re still driving people around, but more customers are less chatty due to being on their phones”.

However, when Covid struck in 2020, he says that was the “toughest point” of his career.

The 77-year-old said: “I was out of work for 15 months due to not being allowed to drive customers.

“It was hard, but it was what it was. Even though it was an upset, there was still a level of positivity in the situation, given I could spend more time with my wife and family.”

Echo: Family - Bill with his wife and childrenFamily - Bill with his wife and children (Image: Carol Murphy)

His daughter Carol Murphy said she felt an “enormous sense of pride” after her dad completed six decades of his career and hopes he continues for many years to come.