I’ve loved London since I was a child; a passion especially boosted by day trips to museums and being allowed to watch episodes of the now classic television series, ‘Minder‘ before bedtime!
Before becoming a London cabbie, I worked in Secondary Education. I had experience at schools in Watford and Telford; working in units with teenagers who had severe learning and behavioral problems. I then went on to train as an English teacher, working in schools in Birmingham, West Bromwich and Dudley.
After leaving my first calling, I struggled to find employment, and spent time on the dole, followed by spells working in department stores and supermarkets.
I moved back to the south-east and discovered ‘The Knowledge‘; the training course to become a qualified London Taxi Driver.
I enrolled on it and, after a gruelling 4 1/2 years, managed to pass and have never looked back (please click the menu bar; ‘The Knowledge of London; Training to be a London Cabbie‘ for a detailed account of that experience).
I’m very proud of my roots… as with many Londoners, they are rather mixed:
My Great Grandmother (on my Mother’s side) was a Native American; an Arapaho Indian (a tribe referenced by the late, great Ian Dury and his band, ‘The Blockheads’ in the classic tune, ‘Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick’).
My Grandfather (on my father’s side) was Irish; a County Cork man.
My first book- ‘The Knowledge: Train Your Brain Like a London Cabbie‘ was published in May 2018 and is available both online and in bookshops.
Thank you so much for visiting, I hope you enjoy your time in my virtual Taxi!
I don’t know why it’s taken so long to find your blog.
I’ve been writing for three years and I am always looking for anecdotes about cabbies and interesting articles to post. If you have any you know where I am.
4 1/2 years to do The Knowledge, I can beat that 4 years 10 months 13 days, but hey! who’s counting?
Thanks, David. Nice to have you onboard!
Fascinating perspective! Heard tell of that London Cabbie Pride (LCP) via Mitch Winehouse (Amy’s dad) and now to find it’s a real thing! lol Actually I was researchng the Charles Dickens’ film,’Scrooge’/ Camden Town connection.Your stories are quite fun and comprehensive.I look foreward to riding a cab next time I’m in London.You’ve created quite a bit of magic around the experience! Thanks :-))
Many thanks for your kind comments, xenobia. Hope you can make it here soon!
Brilliant blog. I’m hooked! Moving to London in the Spring and plan on becoming a regular customer, as long as my wallet and your patience hold out.
Thanks, Megan. If you ever need any advice about life in London, just ask!
Superb blog! Can’t believe I’ve only just found it – glad that I have though!
Found it via your Flickr page (I added you as a contact).
Marvellous – about to read more!
Many, many thanks, Steve. Really appreciate your wonderful comments. So glad you like the blog!
you got your badge 3 months before me
i read your blogs with joy and fear lol
i was redlined on 28’s and 21’s
i know what you mean when you said how proud you were to get your badge
trust me, you were not as proud as me!!
felt like i won the lottery
hope you are doing well
be lucky !!!! Louis
Thanks for the kind comment, Louis. Hope the job is treating you well!
Be lucky 🙂
So happy to have found your blog. When discussing that I blog with a friend of my bf’s she said that Brits don’t blog. I assume she meant about Britain and was excluding expats. While I knew she had to be wrong it has only been recently that I’ve discovered a few blogs. it is nice to read about London (or England) from someone born and bred here.
Awww, thanks! It means so much to me when my blog helps new friends discover things about London. Thank you so much for following and for your lovely comments; much appreciated.
Thank you for following! You are my 100th follower! I am also a teacher of maths to kids in inclusion units etc… With EBSD autism, Aspergers dyslexia etc…. And have left for the same reasons as you!
This is a small world
You’re most welcome, Barbara and many thanks for following my site too.
It’s both reassuring and sadly upsetting to hear that I’m not alone in terms of views on education.
I loved the work, but the rigid curriculum and constant shadow of governmental opinion looming over the task knocked all enthusiasm out of me… I’m sure you know what I mean 🙂
I spoke to a trainee cabbie the other day who has also just left a career in education… we’re certainly not alone.
Hi Cabbie Rob! This is Laura Wise (part of the Laura and Kelly team)! I was looking at your site and saw the picture of the Great Exibition and we have a builing just like that in Dallas called the “Infomart”. Very cool! Hope you are doing well and getting ready for the Christmas holidays. Take Care, Laurahttp://www.flickr.com/photos/hanneorla/6159762766/
Thanks for that info, I never knew about the Infomart that’s really interesting. I always wanted to know what the interior of the Crystal Palace looked like… perhaps the Infomart will help me answer that question one day!
Hope you’re both well and speak to you soon.
Hiya Cabbie Rob
How iv found you i dont even know lol,just surfing London Hackneys, Brill site by the way, its added to my favorites, so i dont loose you lol
iv learnt something already, but also hopfully i can help you when you or your Cabbie friends need replacement covers for your TX’s Even with the new ISRI drivers seat base
my Email address is :
for more info or pictures
Many thanks, Mickey.
Such an interesting read , I was all set to do the knowledge in 2005 but circumstances beyond my control stopped me . But seriously contemplating going for it now before i’m to old .
Thanks, Paul. Hope you get back into it.
Thanks for making my trip to Orion House an interesting one. Good luck with your book.
My pleasure, Todd. Many thanks for your kind words.
Hello, i just caught a domestic flight between Sydney and Melbourne and saw your article in the Qantas in flight mag and thought i’d drop you a line. Keep up the great work – and you’ve got a great website / blog! I’ll be in London from Australia in Sydney so who knows – i might see you and your cab one day. Cheers, Tom.
Thank you so much for your kind comment; it means a lot to me that you’ve taken the time to look up my website and drop me a line 🙂 I’ve had some great support from Aussies with the Qantas article, really appreciate it.
If you ever need any advice regarding your trip to London, please don’t hesitate to ask.
Cheers Rob. I might take you up on that! I’m actually from the UK originally (Liverpool) but haven’t been back to the UK for a few years. Anyway, well done again on a great site, and drive carefully! Tom.
I love Liverpool; a great city with terrific people- you must miss the old place very much. Many thanks again for your kind words; I really appreciate them.
I Just wanted to start my knowledge but don’t know which training school to entrol, could you plse advise me on this.
Although the schools differ in their approach, we essentially all have to learn the same thing. A lot offer free lessons and inductions; try them out and see what suits you best…. trust your instinct.
Brilliant blog which I have just stumbled across. I will read it in time over the next day or so. I am in the position where I am thinking about trying for The Knowledge and becoming a black cab driver. I am happy and able to take out 3-4 years of my life to dedicate the time to this too as the end result will be fantastic.
I’m sure reading your experience will be highly beneficial for me. If there are 5 quick tips you could give to anyone thinking about doing it, or for someone starting out on The Knowledge, what would they be? I am 23 so I will still be fairly young by the time I could potentially pass.
That’s very kind, Louis thank you 🙂
With the Knowledge, you have to stick at it above all; have the patience to keep with it even when you experience knock-backs. Look for points which are a little more unusual and do your best to keep up with new ones that appear. Do as much map work as possible; immerse yourself in it. Subscribe to one of the school point sheets. And don’t worry if you can’t find a call-over partner- get a dictaphone and record your runs into it, then play them back and draw them on the map.
Above all, enjoy it… if you love London and like exploring the place you will get there, I guarantee it.
Thanks for the ride yesterday. Loved the Jimi Hendrix story and how funny is it that I saw Paul McCartney last month in San Francisco and he told the same story. Loved hearing it again yesterday. Hope to see you again during our trip here in London. Your knowledge displayed on our short trip yesterday was priceless. Thanks!!
Hi, thank you so much for the kind comment. The best part of my job is sharing London’s history with my passengers, it was a pleasure to spend time with you both… and I’m so pleased you’re staying close to Jimi’s old haunts! Enjoy the rest of your trip (really hope you make it to Belfast) and please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need any advice or recommendations.
Thanks again 🙂
Throughly enjoyed reading about your time when starting out on the knowledge, through to getting your badge. Only been doing the knowledge myself 5 months and when I have a bad day I always go back and read your blog where you got your Req. Always dose the job to push me on. Thank your. ☺
Thanks so much, Shaun glad I can be of help 🙂 Remember, just stick at it and you will get there in the end.
Stay safe out there.
I’m really enjoying your blog , thank you so much for taking the time to do it . Its like falling down a rabbit hole that is Londons stories .Big Thanks 🙂
Thank you, Emma
One of the best things about London is its street names. I came across your blog when trying to find the derivation of Crucifix Alley – of course, Bermondsey Abbey! Is the Abbey commemorated in other street names in the area? Mass redevelopment is and has been obliterating so much of our history. Many thanks for your efforts to keep it accessible.
Hi Kathy, thank you so much for your kind comments. You ask a good question! There is a Wolseley Street nearby although I’m not sure if that’s named after Cardinal Wolseley who was around during the time of Henry VIII and the dissolution.
Perhaps the most interesting road name in the area is ‘Neckinger’, named after a submerged river. Apparently, it means ‘devil’s neck cloth’- an allusion to the noose used for hanging….
I totally agree with your comments on the area’s redevelopment… it upsets me greatly 😦
I have been visiting London for a few years with my brother.We love the museums,churches,streets and of course being from Cork-the fantastic pubs!!Being a plane spotter as well, London is a feast for the eyes,so if I’m not looking at a street name,I’m looking up at the busy sky.I particularly like being around Whitehall,you can feel the history,I can’t put my finger on it,its just a feeling I get !I am currently looking on the internet for old films of London.We are back next Thursday till Sunday,camera loaded and can’t wait!!!I found your site while looking up war memorials,you have a wonderful we site-well done and keep going…..looking forward to a pint in the Red Lion near Downing Street……..Tony Walsh in Cork.
Hi Tony, thank you so much for your kind comments. Great to hear from someone from Cork; my Granddad was a Clonakilty man!
Thanks again and hope you have a great visit 🙂
Nice to meet you. What a cool blog you have.
Thanks, Vinnieh 🙂
Cheers for following mine too.
Most welcome, Vinnieh- very interesting site you have 😉
You think so? Thank you for the feedback.
Hi Rob thanks for the great site, i,ve dreamt and talked of being a cabbie for years. Going to enjoy reading your posts about doing the knowledge. hopefully will give me some insight into what may lie ahead for the next 4-5 years of my life whilst trying to complete it
Hi Rob great and writing, I’ve talked and dreamt about becoming a cabbie for years and kept putting it of. Just started to read your posts on doing the knowledge which offers a great insight into what the next 4-5 years might be like if I have the bottle to take the plunge and apply to the carriage office.
Thank you so much for the kind words, Atlaf 🙂 I wish you the best of luck with your studies.
Thanks for your very interesting and thorough history of Elephant & Castle. I had heard the name several times (when I lived in San Diego, we used to have a pint once in awhile at a pub with that name), but I never before knew the significance. I know it’s also a name for pubs in many other places, due to the fame of the original. I’ve been to London 3 or 4 times, and the next time I’m there I may visit the area. Is there a plaque on Charlie Chaplin’s birthplace, by the way?
Many thanks for your kind words, Gary. Incredible to learn that there was an ‘Elephant and Castle’ pub in San Diego! Charlie Chaplin has several plaques; there is one on East Street which is said to be the road on which he was born. There are other plaques at his former homes on Methley Street and Kennington Road; very exclusive, gentrified areas now but very tough districts in Charlie’s day.
Though I was born and raised in Kansas (the very center of the States), I’ve been lucky enough to visit London about half a dozen times, starting when I was about 18 months old—the benefits of having two Anglophiles as parents!
Most of my traveling within London was done either on foot or via the Tube, but I’ve been fascinated by the training process cabbies go through for years, and found your personal account of the Knowledge quite enthralling. I hope that, come what may, the cabbies of London are forever held to that standard; we should all know our hometowns so well, yet how many of us could even name the next street over?
Delighted to have discovered your site.
Hi, thank you so much for your wonderful comments, mountanto; such beautiful sentiments mean a great deal to both myself and other cabbies. You will always be welcome in London; hope to meet you someday 🙂
I appreciate your writing and the great accomplishment of qualifying to drive the black cab.
I notice that your first cab was a Fairway. What model do you currently drive?
Many kind thanks Bill. Latest cab- a TX4 🙂
Excellent, Rob, thank you. Also, happy to see you have the book coming out soon.
Delighted to have discovered your interest packed blog. Lots of visits to come. Regards from Thom at The Immortal Jukebox.
Thanks Thom ☺️
A great website and blog, which I came across, searching for info re Strutton Ground market (my paternal Grandad had a fruit,veg and flower stall during the 20s and 30s). My Dad was a black cab driver in the 60s and 70s and remembered helping his Dad on the market, when he was still in single figures! That side of the family came from Co. Cork, too, in the 1840s. I was tempted by the Knowledge, many years ago, but didn’t pursue it. I remember Dad going out on his moped in all weathers and the huge map of London he had on the wall, together with the ‘reel to reel’ tapes he used; no Internet in those days!!Keep up the good work.
Many kind thanks Garry 🙂
Just a long shot but do you know anyone interested in 1930s pictures of cub scouts in Deptford?
I think it was the Creek Street troop. I have a lovely picture of the cubs and brownies on parade and at camp. My father and two of his brothers were the troop leaders and my mother joined the annual camps as nurse. I realise those cubs would be 100 years old now!