KNOWLEDGE OF LONDON: What is the 'Blue Book'?
Updated: May 8
The black cab knowledge of London is a rigorous and challenging test that aspiring taxi drivers have to pass in order to obtain a licence to ply for hire anywhere in the Greater London Authority area.
The test was introduced in 1865 and requires candidates to memorize thousands of streets, landmarks, routes and places of interest within a six mile radius of Charing Cross. The test is divided into seven stages, including a written examination, an oral examination and several appearances before examiners who test the candidates on their knowledge of London.
The Blue Book is a guide to learning the Knowledge of London that is issued by Transport for
London (TfL) to anyone who applies for a taxi driver licence. The Blue Book lists 320 routes (known as "runs") that cover the main areas of London. Candidates have to learn these routes, as well as all the roads and landmarks within a quarter mile radius of the start and end points of each route. The Blue Book also contains a booklet of advice on how to learn the Knowledge and how to prepare for the assessments. The Blue Book is available in colour or black and white versions, and can be purchased online or in store from various suppliers.
The Knowledge of London is widely regarded as one of the most difficult tests in the world, and it typically takes three to four years of dedicated study to master it. However, it also offers many rewards and benefits for those who succeed, such as being able to drive an iconic London cab, having a flexible and independent work schedule, and earning a good income. The Knowledge also gives taxi drivers a deep and comprehensive understanding of London's history, culture and geography, making them experts on their city.
If you are interested in becoming a London taxi driver, you can find out more about the application process, the requirements and the fees on TfL's website. You can also find various resources and support online or offline from other taxi drivers, schools, books and apps that can help you with your studies. The Knowledge is not easy, but it is achievable if you have the pride and passion it takes to become a London cabbie.