Cabbie’s Monopoly – Part I


While rummaging through my attic recently by chance I came upon an old pre-war Monopoly set once owned by my parents. Monopoly is a redesign of an earlier game “The Landlord’s Game”, first published by the Quaker and political activist Elizabeth Magie. The purpose of that game was to teach people how monopolies end up bankrupting the many and giving extraordinary wealth to one or a few individuals; it seems rather prophetic for the world we live in nowadays.

[S]INCE THE GAME WAS CREATED, more than one billion people have played it; making it the most played board game in the world. The mascot for the game, known as Mr Monopoly or Rich Uncle Pennybags, is an elderly moustached man in morning dress with a walking cane and top hat. Here, wearing a flat hat and muffler is a London cabbie’s version on the board game.

Vine Street

The most obscure location on the Monopoly board, in essence, a yard branching off Swallow Street, a cul-de-sac approached from the eastern end of Piccadilly.

Taking its name from a public house that stood there, the street was originally longer and is best known for the police station that once was there. It was to Vine Street nick, said to have been the busiest in the world that the Marquess of Queensbury was taken in March 1895 to be charged with criminal libel against Oscar Wilde, thus setting in train a series of events that eventually led to Wilde’s imprisonment.


Like London itself, the cab trade is full of shit interesting stories, myths and general nonsense. But one of my favourite cabbies things is trying to “ride the green wave” from King’s Cross to the Marylebone flyover.

This is when you drive that whole stretch without hitting one red light along the way. No-one is actually sure if it’s been done or not but there are plenty of, probably apocryphal, stories of cab drivers carrying on journeys all the way to the Marylebone Flyover to complete the Green Wave, despite their punters only wanting to go to Baker Street. Richard Cudlip

A straight stretch of road rising up an incline once known as Islington Hill; travelling up this hill students of The Knowledge get an inkling of what a condemned man feels to ascend the steps of the gallows. For at the crest of the hill is Penton Street in that once was situated the Public Carriage Office, where those who sought to obtain a taxi licence would get a grilling from the examiner who had an interrogating technique worthy of the CIA.

Pentonville Prison nearby has been called “the most copied prison in the world”, much like The Knowledge.

The most pointless street in London; with its 18 hour traffic jam of mostly empty buses stretching along its entire length of 1.5 miles. Weaving between the buses can be found shoppers, so intent on the business of running from shop to shop while talking on their mobile phones they are culled on a regular basis when failing to notice a red vehicle the size of a small house approaching. Once known as Tyburn Road the thoroughfare formed the route for the condemned from Newgate to the hanging gibbet at modern day Marble Arch.

A version of this post was published by CabbieBlog on 18th February 2011

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