When most tourists are asked to name something that is linked to London, they will name a black cab or taxi. Those nifty and surprisingly spacious cabs are synonymous with the vibrant city and are a must-have photo for any tourist.
However, despite these cabs being famous and identifiable the world over, there are many things about them that even people from London aren’t aware of. If you want to learn more about the famous black taxi, read on.
They Aren’t Always Black
Even though a black cab is often black, it doesn’t have to be.
The origin of the dark taxi links back to the end of the second world war, when the car known as the Austin FX3 was released to take over this famous piece of public transportation. And, you guessed it, all the cars were black. If you were to purchase one from a website like cabdirect.com, you would likely pay a lower price for a black cab than a pink option.
Of course, not all these cabs are black. You can get them in post box red (another hallmark of London), blue, or even pink.
Shouting is a No-No
Many people who have been to New York or live in New York are all too familiar with the calling out of ‘Taxi’ when they see the yellow car. However, British people are a bit quieter and to call out to a black cab as one drives past is not only a faux pas, but it is illegal. If you want to travel around London in one of these cars, you should stand by the curb and raise your arm out and the car will stop.
Satnavs Are Also a No-No
You may not be aware, but there is a skillset when it comes to driving a black taxi in London. For the drivers of black taxis to get the ‘green badge,’ they have to pass the Knowledge, which is as intimidating as it sounds.
To pass this exam, the drivers need to know (and memorize with a map), 320 routes, 25,000 streets by name and location, and as many as 20,000 landmarks within a 6-mile radius of Charing Cross, which is near Trafalgar Square. So, no satnavs will be used when you are in the back seat of a black taxi.
They Aren’t from London
Many people are surprised to learn that the infamous cab does not originate from London. In fact, they come from Coventry and when you get out of Coventry station, you will see a black cab.
Originally, black cabs were designed and built in Coventry but in modern times, the LEVC factory which is a Chinese-owned company builds most of the cars. However, if you happen to buy an older model, or get into one, then it may come from Coventry originally.
They Were Electric Before It Was Cool
Most newly built modern cars are electric, as part of the initiative to save the planet. However, the London Electric Cab co was churning out electric black cabs in 1897 and were called hummingbirds, because they had a gentle sound.