If there is something that has become famous about taxi drivers and chauffeurs in London, it is that they possess an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of the tens of thousands of streets of London. It is such an endeavour that it is simply known as “The Knowledge”.
It is something that makes travelling in London so unique, but where did it come from?
The Knowledge is the most demanding course for taxi drivers in London and can take an average of 34 months to pass. Initially created in 1865, it is a course of study for a wide number of London routes through the city to reach any place of interest.
The initial reason for it being so in-depth is that it was intended for taxi drivers, who are expected to pick up people at many points on the street and decide a route immediately on request, as well as quickly switch to alternatives in the event of serious delays and traffic.
Rather than rely on satellite navigation or worse, looking at a map, The Knowledge helps a driver pick the perfect route.
In total there are 320 main “runs” or routes through Central London that are covered, for a total of 25,000 streets. For each route, a driver must know not only the direction but also every street, point of interest and their exact order.
As a result, there is so much to know and remember that drivers who learn The Knowledge and pass the 12 one-to-one tests have been found to have bigger and better spatial memory retention, according to an academic study.