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The Cabbies Shelters Of Old London

March 7, 2023
by the gentle author





Thurloe Place, SW7

Created between 1875 and 1914, sixty of these structures were built by the Cabmen’s Shelter Fund established by the Earl of Shaftesbury to enable cabbies to get a meal without leaving their cabs unattended and were no larger than a horse and cart so they might stand upon the public highway.

Today, only thirteen remain but all are grade II listed and, on my strange pilgrimage around London, I found them welcoming homely refuges where a cup of tea can still be had for just 50p.

Embankment Place, Wc2

Wellington Place, NW8

Chelsea Embankment, SW3

Grosvenor Gardens, SW1

St Georges Sq, SW1


Kensington Park Rd, W11

Temple Place, WC2


Warwick Ave, W9

Russell Sq, WC1

Kensington Rd, W8

Pont St, SW1


The shelter attendant at Wellington Place has spoon-bending powers

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The Pumps of Old London

13 Responses leave one →
  1. rosie barker permalink
    March 7, 2023

    Lively interesting piece today. Also enjoyed reading the old pumps. thank you.

  2. Pat permalink
    March 7, 2023

    A few of the cabmans shelters have nicknames.
    Chelsea Embankment was known, when it was in use, as The Kremlin due to the political views of some of the regular users.
    Kensington Road is known as the All Nations due to the nearby Embassy’s.
    Thurlow Place is the Bell and Horns, named after a pub that was once nearby.

  3. Andy Strowman permalink
    March 7, 2023

    Lovely article.
    My dad was a Cabbie.
    Imagine all those conversations they had in there

  4. Michael permalink
    March 7, 2023

    The only cabbie shelter that I knew of was in Ealing Broadway. As a child, it used to fascinate me why to have what from the other side of the road looked like a garden shed next to the taxi rank.

    Incidentally, the etymology of the word ‘garage’ is French for ‘shelter’.

  5. March 7, 2023

    Lovely little green houses. Great piece.

  6. March 7, 2023

    I used to wonder what those little green houses were when I was a child. Good to see that they are now listed buildings which will offer some protection.

  7. Bernie permalink
    March 7, 2023

    When I was a Londoner, in the 40’s and 50’s, they were not open to the public, as far as I know, But I would delight in patronising one now if only I could manage to get to Town before the Reaper calls for me.

  8. Steve Hanscomb permalink
    March 7, 2023

    There is a tea room on Red Lion Square in Holborn that looks very much like a cab shelter from the back, but it’s a tea shop for the gardens. It’s painted white with some green.

  9. Joan Johnson permalink
    March 7, 2023

    Lovely to see these quirky little retreats, which I didn’t even know existed.

  10. March 7, 2023

    Thanks for this piece, for all the photos, and for introducing me to the other remaining cabbie shelters.

    The last time I was in London, the one in Russell Sq caught my attention. I did a little background reading and found the story fascinating. I’d love to know more about what motivated Shaftesbury and what else he did.

  11. March 7, 2023

    The Kensington Road shelter nicknamed All Nations is so called due to its proximity to The Great Exhibition.

  12. Baden Smith permalink
    March 8, 2023

    An episode of Marty Feldman’s “It’s Marty!” TV show had a parody of World War 2 films, staging it as a battle being the taxi driver and their dreaded foe….the pedestrian. Plenty of shots using a cabbies shelter – not sure whether this was a real one borrowed for the occasion, or a prop built by the art department. Still, amusing viewing if you’re of a certain age…

  13. Marcia Howard permalink
    March 9, 2023

    I’ve always loved the sight of the Cabbies Shelters. One of our close friends was a former London cabbie, though has retired now to the south of France! The Shelters are also in existence elsewhere in the country, with one particular familiar to me on the market place of Ripon in North Yorkshire.

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