The Edmondson Blog

The Knowledge

A London cab driver is required to be able to decide routes immediately in response to a passenger's request or traffic conditions, rather than stopping to look at a map or ask a controller by radio. Consequently, the Knowledge is the in-depth study of London street routes and places of interest that taxicab-drivers in that city must complete to obtain a licence to operate a black cab. It was initiated in 1865, and has changed little since.

It is the world's most demanding training course for taxicab-drivers; and applicants will usually need at least 12 'Appearances' (attempts at the final test), after preparation averaging 34 months, to pass the examination.

The 320 main (standard) routes, or 'runs', through central London of the Knowledge are contained within the 'Blue Book' (officially known as the 'Guide to Learning the Knowledge of London'), produced by the Public Carriage Office which regulates licensed taxis in London. In all some 25,000 streets within a six mile radius of Charing Cross are covered along with the major arterial routes through the rest of London.

A taxicab-driver must learn these, as well as the 'points of interest' along those routes including streets, squares, clubs, hospitals, hotels, theatres, government and public buildings, railway stations, police stations, courts, diplomatic buildings, important places of worship, cemeteries, crematoria, parks and open spaces, sports and leisure centres, places of learning, restaurants and historic buildings.

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