The Knowledge of London - From London Taxi Premier
All licensed taxi drivers in London must have an in depth knowledge of the road network and places of interest
in the Capital. This is known as ‘the Knowledge of London’.
For would be, All London taxi drivers, (Green Badge) this means that they need to have a detailed knowledge of
London within a six mile radius of Charing Cross. Suburban Taxi drivers (Yellow Badge) need to have a similarly
detailed knowledge of their chosen sector.
The basis for learning the Knowledge is the 'Guide to Learning the Knowledge of London' (the 'Blue Book') which
contains lists of routes (or 'runs'). Applicants need to learn these routes and they also need to know all the
places of interest and important landmarks on the route and around the start and finish points. There are 320 runs
for All London applicants to learn and between 30 and 51 for suburban applicants (depending on the size of the
sector).Before starting to learn the Knowledge, applicants are invited to attend the PCO for an introductory
talk. Here they are given a copy of the Blue Book plus advice on how to learn the Knowledge.
When applicants have learnt all the runs they can attend the PCO to be examined on their Knowledge. After a
basic written examination applicants are tested by one-to-one interviews (called 'appearances') where they are
given the start and finish points of imaginary taxi journeys and have to describe the shortest route between them.
A detailed description of the Knowledge of London examination system is available
On average it takes an All London applicant 34 months to learn the Knowledge and pass through the examination
process, 26 months for a suburban applicant.
Doing The Knowledge
I've often thought it would be great to do The Knowledge. For those not in the know (or without the knowledge),
it's the exam that London taxi drivers must undertake to qualify to drive a black cab. It's basically a
comprehensive test of someone's knowledge of streets within a certain (rather large) radius of Trafalgar
Most of the prospective cabbies learn the Knowledge while riding around London on a scooter, generally on a
Sunday with an A-Z map strapped to the handlebars.
I often think it would be a much more impressive task to do it purely from the A-Z map, without any reference to
the physical streets. I wonder if anyone's ever done that. I wonder if I should try. It would be quite a