There exist in London 13 cabmen's shelters - green, garden-shed like buildings often smelling of bacon and surrounded by 'black' cabs. They were provided by the Cabmen's Shelter Fund, a charity set up under the Earl of Shaftesbury and others in 1874 with the object of providing places where cabmen could obtain 'good and wholesome refreshments at moderate prices'. By this provision it hoped to keep the cabbies out of the pubs !
Between 1875 and 1914, 61 shelters were erected at a cost of about £200 each. As they were placed on the public highway the police specified that they should not take up more space than a horse and cab.
The Fund still exists exists but with limited resources has been aided in the restoration and maintenance of the shelters by the Heritage of London Trust and other donors.
They are Grade II listed and a typical listing description reads as follows:
Cabmen's shelter 1888. Timber framed, tongue and groove timber panels; felt clad timber roof. 7 bays by 3 bays. Entrance to centre of north side. Windows to upper wall in second, fourth and sixth bays. Stump of fleche to roof. Decorative rafter ends to eaves. (Kensington Road SW7).
The decorative woodwork panels include the initials CSF for 'Cabmen's Shelter Fund' (see header pix).
There are variations to the basic pattern and if you want to view them they can be found at the following locations:
Chelsea Embankment - near the Albert Bridge
Embankment Place (pictured above)
Grosvenor Gardens - west side of north garden
Hanover Square - north of central garden TQ288/SE
Kensington Park Road - outside numbers 8-10 TQ2580NW
Kensington Road - north side TQ2679NW
Russell Square - west corner (previously in Leicester Square)
St George's Square, Pimlico - north side TQ2978
Temple Place TQ3180NW
Thurloe Place, Kensington - opposite the Victoria & Albert Museum TQ2779SW
Warwick Avenue - Clifton Gardens TQ2682SW
Wellington Place, St John's Wood
Cabmen's Shelters are included in the book 'London Sight Unseen' by Lord Snowdon.
There is a painting of horse-drawn cabs outside a shelter by J C Dollman in the Museum of London collection titled 'Les Miserables'.
There are more photos and information on this webpage
These shelters feature on a number of my walks: St John's Wood, Mayfair, Notting Hill, Victoria Street, Chelsea, Bloomsbury
© london-footprints.co.uk 2009
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