Most English people know something about The Knowledge, the fiendishly difficult tests devised for London’s black cab drivers, and we take pride in the fact that our cabbies are probably the best in the world, thanks almost entirely to its imposing demands. But I would imagine most people’s Knowledge knowledge ends there.
This beautiful National Geographic piece dives deep into the history of The Knowledge and throws up many fascinating details, including the charming story behind London’s cabman’s shelters (shown above), of which just 13 remain:
With the ease and fluency of a man who has The Knowledge, and the passion of a true historian, Lordan explains how the shelters were founded by Captain George Armstrong in 1875 to give London’s taxi drivers somewhere to keep warm and dry.
Armstrong had “sent his manservant out to hail a cab in a blizzard,” Lordan says. “He came back an hour later and said they were all in pubs, and none of them were in any fit state to drive. And so he established these shelters.”
Read the whole piece, it’s wonderful.