After being accepted as a knowledge student you have to remember a book of 320 routes (runs) that is approximately 3500 street names or to use an analogy imagine being in a stadium with 3500 people and jumping up on stage, trying to steady your nerves, then recalling the first and last names of the audience in order of seating position before being allowed to start the process of appearances.
On appearances, any place or street in London can be used by the examiner. Using the stadium analogy that would be a stadium of over 20000 people (points of interest) the examiner would join you on stage and at random select any two members of the audience, you would then have to correctly give their first and last name if correct you would then have to name the streets, roads, avenues, courts, lanes, crescents, places, mews, yards, hills, and alleys in the correct order to take you from one audience members house to the other, also the examiner would be allowed to ask you to reverse the route to included one-way systems that where not used in the original route, The Knowledge of London is therefore quite rightly regarded as the world’s hardest geography test and I am taking for granted that the audience members all live within a 6 mile radius of central London.
It was only after I was accepted by TFL onto the knowledge that I started hearing from drivers that it’s not worth the time, one said “the games dead, you’d be better off doing something else” another gave me a old copy of TAXI the trade magazine, No 371 June 2016. Undeterred by the remarks from the drivers I finished my runs and was off home for revision. On the way home, I’d remembered watching The Knowledge an old 1979 film, in one scene 3 cab drivers are outside Uncle Tom’s Cabin on Portslade Road saying the same thing to Chris Matthews played by Mick Ford, it must be a cab driver to knowledge boy wind up I thought, the trade can’t still be in trouble, can it ?
Alf Townsend’s Taxi Talk article was hard to read, he says “I’m a realist and the reality is that our once mighty trade is being pushed to extinction, I know many young cabbies who are re-training to be electricians and plumbers” just what I’m doing in reverse I thought to myself.