London's black cab 'knowledge' school saved from closure

London: London's most venerable taxi school that has trained thousands of black-cab drivers for over 30  years has won a reprieve, thanks to an agreement with the London Taxi Company (LTC).

Knowledge Point was expected to go out of business at the end of last year when its premises in Islington were being redeveloped to make way for luxury flats.

"We were 10 days away from closing completely, we couldn't afford the rent in central London, so their offer before Christmas was well received," Malcolm Linskey, founder of the taxi school, was quoted as saying by The Guardian.

He said the company considered moving to Leytonstone, in east London, but it was too far away from the city centre.

All London black-cab drivers have to complete "the knowledge", an encyclopaedic accumulation of detail about the British capital's streets.

It can take up to four years to learn the 25,000 roads within a six-mile radius of Charing Cross, usually on a motor scooter in all weathers. The trainees spend hundreds of hours drawing lines on laminated maps of the city, working out the most direct routes from one destination to another.

The school, which opened in 1983, has seen 9,000 black cab drivers graduate to London's roads.

Given Knowledge Point's crucial role in teaching cabbies, LTC, the maker of the famous black cab, has thrown the school a lifeline.

From today, Knowledge Point classes will be held at LTC's Brewery road dealership, a few yards from its former location.

"We are extremely pleased to be able to help keep Knowledge Point open," said Peter Johansen, chief executive of LTC.

"The knowledge is a proud tradition among London black- cab drivers, and still as relevant today as ever before. This intensive training sets them apart from minicab drivers, making them indispensable to London and the UK, and provides highly skilled professional jobs for 25,000 taxi drivers in London."

LTC, which has a manufacturing plant in Coventry and London, needed to be rescued in 2013, when it was acquired by Geely, the Chinese carmaker that held a 20 per cent stake in the firm before it collapsed.

LTC ran into problems after having to recall 500 TX4 black cabs over a steering box fault amid mounting losses at the group.

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