Cabmen’s Shelters

Cabmen’s Shelter at Hyde Park Gate

While I was in London back in April, I spotted a large wooden hut that looked like Dr Who’s TARDIS if it had been a Siamese twin and had turned green around the gills from all the crazy adventures. Alas, the truth was a bit more grounded but at least there were no Daleks to deal with.

This hut (@Hyde Park Gate) is one of a number of Cabmen’s Shelters which can still be found around London. They were built by the Cabmen’s Shelter Fund which was founded in 1875. The idea for the shelter came about after journalist/gentleman with deep pockets George Armstrong tried to hail a cab during a blizzard but found that the taxi drivers were sheltering in a nearby pub and weren’t sipping orange juice and sparkling water. The idea behind these shelters was to give the cab drivers somewhere else to go and to stop them from getting drunk on the job. The cabs were built to be no bigger than a horse and cart and served food and hot drinks to the cabbies seeking some shelter. Needless to say, no alcohol was served at these huts.

The first hut was built at St. John’s Wood and it still stands to this day. In total, just over 60 huts were built in London over the coming years but only 13 survive now. The existing ones are run by the wonderfully titled Worshipful Company of Hackney Carriage Drivers and 10 of them are still in operation. Many of them now serve drinks and snacks to the public. The one I found is near Hyde Park Gate and wasn’t serving a morsel of anything 😦

The huts are now Grade II listed so all going well, they’ll be around for a while yet.

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