The Knowledge: London’s Amazing Taxi Drivers


Along with the fire engine-red double decker Routemaster buses, London’s black cabs represent one of the most iconic symbols of the capital’s roads. Wherever you need to go, there’ll always be a hackney carriage on hand to take you there, famed for their ability to turn on a sixpence and weave through the impenetrable maze that is London’s streets. One thing that isn’t as widely known, however – but certainly deserves to be – is the incredible depth and breadth of the cab drivers’ knowledge of the streets of London, which is rigorously trained and tested before they become licensed.

On average, it takes three years to learn all the information required to pass the test – known simply and appropriately as ‘the Knowledge’ – and every one of the city’s 21,000 drivers has done it. The course for the whole of London comprises 25,000 streets spanning a six mile radius around Charing Cross, and it’s not just roads: bars, clubs, theatres, hotels, government and public buildings, embassies, railways, parks, etc. are all included, as are every one of the city’s landmarks. This is no mean feat, considering not only the city’s vast scale, but also its sprawling layout: reflecting the near-endless twists and turns of its ancient and colourful history, London’s streets do not follow a grid or block pattern, so every single road must be known inside out and has to be learned individually. Having this depth of knowledge at their fingertips means drivers are able to decide immediately on the quickest available route for their fare, taking into account traffic conditions and a passenger’s specific needs. Notable in the modern world is their lack of reliance on satellite navigation, radio contact with an office, or even the use of a map.

Cabbies are also renowned for their conversation, which combined with their intimate knowledge of the city often sees them entertaining their passengers with stories and facts; driver and tour guide rolled into one! This means that your black cab driver won’t just take you where ask to go, they can help you decide where you want to visit. Whichever of London’s countless attractions you choose to visit during your stay, you can be assured that you’ll come home to a haven of luxury and comfort with a stay at one of our central London hotels. The Montcalm at The Brewery London City is a stunning five star property is perfectly located for exploring central London, with a plethora of attractions just a short cab journey away. These include the Bank of England, the Tower of London, and Buckingham Palace, to name just a few.

London has had a regulated taxi service for hundreds of years. Long before the dawn of the motorcar, horse-drawn hackney carriages began transporting the people of London in the early 17th century. Today’s black cab drivers are the proud standard bearers for that long tradition, and ensure you can get around on your visit to London quicker than ever to make the most of your stay.