Can you get from Kangaroo Valley to the Den of Thieves without using the Magic Circle? London’s black taxi drivers call the Palace of Westminster the ‘Gasworks’ – due to the ‘hot air’ spouted by MPs. Broadcasting House, home of the BBC, is referred to in code by the drivers as ‘The Tripe Factory’. Traders on London’s Stock Exchange may not realise cabbies call that place of work the Den of Thieves. Steve McNamara of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association: ‘There is great humour in the taxi business and much of it is based on the history of the city’
London’s world famous black taxi drivers have their own secret code for discussing various famous landmarks across the city… some of which can be less than complimentary. MPs and Peers hailing a taxi for a ride to Westminster may not know that drivers refer to the Palace of Westminster as the ‘Gasworks’ – presumably due to the ‘hot air’ spouted in both chambers.
Over in Broadcasting House, home of the BBC, radio stars such as John Humphrys, Jeremy Vine and Mishal Husain speak unto the nation from ‘The Tripe Factory’ (aka ‘The Tripe Shop’).
And as for those making millions at the London Stock Exchange, their place of work is known by cabbies as either the Den of Thieves or (the wonderfully Dickensian) Fagin’s Kitchen.
The cabbie slang was revealed by lexicographer Susie Dent – famous for her appearances in ‘Dictionary Corner’ on Countdown – during her Something Rhymes With Purple podcast on Tuesday.
Taxi drivers have developed their own slang for parts of London which include describing the rank at King’s Cross Station as ‘The Scent Box’ – a punning reference to its ‘rank’ smell.
Traders at the London Stock Exchange may not realise that their place of work is known by cabbies as either the Den of Thieves or (the wonderfully Dickensian) Fagin’s Kitchen. And the area surrounding Piccadilly Circus (right) is known as the Magic Circle because drivers find customers galore there.
Not fans of Auntie? The BBC’s Broadcasting House building (above) is known to drivers as The Tripe Factory, or The Tripe Shop. Earls Court is renowned for the number of Australians who live in the area, so obviously it has been named Kangaroo Valley – while the old Park Lane Hotel was known as the American Workhouse.
Black taxi drivers refer to the National History Museum, in South Kensington, as the Dead Zoo, while they describe the area around Piccadilly Circus as the Magic Circle – because they always find plenty of work in that part of town. However, cabbies are not especially generous when it comes to describing some of the ranks where they congregate. A cab shelter at Albert Bridge is known as The Kremlin, while passengers travelling from the rank above Victoria station to Gatwick wait at The Raft.
Embankment station’s rank is known as The Rat Hole, while Waterloo’s is the Rat Run. Over in King’s Cross Station, taxi drivers describe that rank as the Scent Box – a punning reference to the ‘rank’ smell.
According to Steve McNamara of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, many of the nicknames have evolved over generations. He told MailOnline: ‘Some of them are quite obvious, like the Lloyds building is known as The Oil Rig and the Blackwall Tunnel is The Pipe. Chiswick Roundabout is known as the Cherry Blossom as there was once a large tree there. Many of the names go back generations. The green hut rank opposite the Victoria and Albert is known as the Bell and Horns – even though the pub it was named after is gone more than a century.
Some of the nicknames are quite old, such as The Resistance, which refers to Harley Street – home of private medical consultants who opposed the creation of the National Health Service. The memorial to Queen Victoria (right) opposite Buckingham Palace is known as The Wedding Cake – due to its white colour and tiered appearance.
- London taxi drivers’ secret codes for various landmarks. This one is called ‘The gasworks’.