My dad was a London cabbie for a while. He drove the Beatles' manager once, and some gold from the Bank of England on a couple of occasions (they used to just hail a passing taxi at random times, for security reasons).
I don't suppose you were examining back when he would have taken it, in the late 60s/early 70s?
How do they update their knowledge of streets, as presumably things change pretty often in such a big city? And exactly what area does it cover?
rosie- you mean some erstwhile ( private accounts no longer serviced) eccentric private customer ( not commercial - the bank's commercial customers are other banks and the government) who insisted on departing the Bank in a taxi with half a dozen ingots in their handbag / briefcase then? And displayed same to their driver as they accelerated away from Thread St?
@MardyBra - there are still thousands of applications every single year. It will never go out of fashion, the Knowledge is the only way to become a London black taxi driver. Anyone can drive with a satnav! They learn so much more than just the streets/directions.
@SockQueen I do have the knowledge. I began doing it as soon as I hit the correct age. We have a large map of London, from which we call the runs. You have to have the Knowledge to become and examiner.
@rosiejaune Unfortunately, that was way before my time! All streets/routes are in the 'blue book' which is given to the candidate. There are 320 routes which fall within a 6 mile radius of Charing Cross. The knowledge doesn't particularly need updating, since the streets/routes remain the same. It's just the places on those streets that change. As long as the passenger gives the driver the street name he should(!) know where to go.
@MeetOnTheLedge the pass rate completely depends on the candidates. They can keep retaking, of course! Some do give up. Especially if they have received too many 'Ds' and are pushed back to the previous stage of appearances. One potential driver was stuck on 56s for nearly 2 years, it was infuriating - he knew his stuff but clammed up in front of the examiners. He went onto pass though!
@JustHereForThePooStories it's mainly to see if the driver has the correct customer service/people skills to become a taxi driver. They are put under an awful lot of pressure in the examinations rooms because - quite cruelly - we want to see if they cave under stress.
When my father completed the knowledge (many moons ago) the examiners were awful! They'd play so many mind games to see if the candidate would crack. My father walked into the room once and was told to take off his jacket. He did so, then began his run. Halfway through, the examiner interrupted him and said 'Why did you take your jacket off? I never told you you could do that!' Mind games galore!
@doodlejump1980 oh! I don't watch it. Who knows, they might be able to. Charlie(?) certainly did.
@Echo2 100% there is. Uber, as much as they are colonising right now, will never be a black taxi. Many, many people will only use black cabs. They're iconic. You think of London and you think of red buses/phone boxes/post boxes, Big Ben and black cabs.
@SockQueen they need to know all of the major points of interest. So every hotel, hospital, train station, museum, court, restaurant... They also need to know the current stage shows, temporary tourist attractions (think Winter Wonderland), changes in establishment names.