London Taxi Drivers Slang - Part 1

Posted by on 19 September 2012 | Comments

A - B

 

Green Badge

The honourable trade of driving a licensed hackney carriage around London has its roots in a Charter granted by Oliver Cromwell in the 1650’s. The rigorous testing procedure all London cabbies must go through, called The Knowledge of London (or simply ‘the Knowledge’), started during the 1850’s.

It takes about three years to pass the ongoing assessments of ‘the Knowledge’ before a cabbie gets their Green Badge and can legally ‘ply for hire’. Not surprisingly, London cabbies have developed their own slang. What follows is most of what I know; it’s not definitive (and much is obsolete).

Key to terms: loc = location; misc = miscellaneous; mon = money; pass = passengers; pol = police; tax = taxis; trad = trade

 

A

The Admirals (loc) – Dolphin Square SW1. Each building is named after an Admiral.
All In (mon) – daily takings
All Nations (loc) – taxi drivers refreshment shelter (a Green Hut), Kensington Road SW7
American Workhouse (loc) – The Park Lane Hotel W1, popular with Americans
Appearance (trad) - Knowledge students verbal examination (one of many)

 

B

Badge (trad) – Green Badge an ‘All London’, or Yellow Badge a ‘Suburban’ driver must wear
The Baze (loc) – Bayswater Road W2
Bell & ‘orns (loc) – taxi drivers refreshment shelter (a Green Hut), Cromwell Gardens SW7
Billy Bunter (pass) – Punter (passenger), from cockney rhyming slang
Bilker (pass) – passenger that doesn’t pay (usually by running away)
Bill (trad) – taxi drivers licence/ID
A Binder (trad) – a very long wait on a rank (for the taxi driver)
The Bindi (loc) – The London Eye SE1 (taken from the Hindi, apparently)
Bishopsgate (loc) – The Athenaeum Club SW1 (formerly a high clerical membership)
Bloke (pass) – passenger (mid 19th century usage)
Blown Out (trad) – still sitting on the rank after the passenger queue has gone
Blue Book (trad) – a book of ‘Runs’ every Knowledge student must learn (merely the start)
Blue Trees (pol) – a policeman hiding whilst checking for speeding drivers
Bottle (mon) - £2, from cockney rhyming slang ‘bottle of glue’
Bowler Hat (pass) – City gent passenger
Broom (trad) – to refuse an unwanted job (technically illegal)
Buck House (loc) – Buckingham Palace
Bullseye (mon) - £50, from points scored on a darts board
Bunshop (loc) – a Lyons Corner House (popular restaurant chain, now all gone)
Butterboy (trad) – newly qualified taxi driver (origins much argued over)
Butterfly (trad) – a summer cab driver only (used during the days of horse & carriage)
Buzz Box (tax) – a noisy taxi