Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Taxi Shelters

Following along with the London cabbie posting that I did a few days ago, I wanted to share one more interesting idea about the life of a London cabbie. Scattered through town are little green sheds like this one that are called taxi shelters or huts. Originally built between 1875 and 1914, they were set up after an army captain named Captain George Armstrong sent one of his servants out one rainy day to find a cab, which was a horse drawn carriage at the time,  and found that all the drivers had abandoned their cabs to go to the local pubs to warm up and get a drink.

In an attempt to provide a warm place and a spot for drivers to get out of the rain for a non alcoholic drink, he and a few others created the Cabman's Shelter Fund, which set out to build the shelters we see  today. Originally 61 shelters were built to specifications that they be no longer than the length of a horse and cab, since they were situated on a highway.

Small as they were, they all had a working kitchen and table seating for up to 13 drivers.

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There are thirteen remaining shelters today and here is where they are located:
Chelsea Embankment - near the Albert Bridge
Embankment Place
Grosvenor Gardens - west side of north garden
Hanover Square - north of central garden
Kensington Park Road - outside numbers 8-10
Kensington Road - north side
Pont Street
Russell Square - west corner (previously in Leicester Square)
St George's Square, Pimlico
Temple Place
Thurloe Place, Kensington - opp the Victoria & Albert Museum
Warwick Avenue - Clifton Gardens
Wellington Place, St John's Wood

The menu prices are subsidized making them more affordable for drivers. A tuna fish sandwich is 1.50£, soup and bread 2.50£ and a cup of coffee is only 50 pence. Only drivers are allowed inside to eat, but many of the shelters have take away available for anyone. Hmmmm.... I'm thinking dinner couldn't get much cheaper or easier!!!


  1. wonderful to know and so charming, too!
    london is so remarkably thoughtful.


  2. How interesting, Debi! I never knew the history behind the shelters. I was always so impressed with the cab drivers of London. Perhaps that's because I took the Tube more often than not. It was a treat for me to ride in a taxi.

  3. Bonjour Debi,
    What a great story and idea. I did see one of these green buildings and I was trying to figure out what they were used for.
    Hope you're having a great week,

  4. Your knowledge of "all things London" never ceases to amaze me!

  5. Oh, Debi, this is the kind of charming story that makes London the fabulous city that it is. Even though I've lived there several times, I never knew about these shelters. I may have even walked by one in Pimlico or Russell Square. Once again, thank you for a wonderful glimpse into London life. Georgianna

  6. Debi thank you for your kind words on my blog and your understanding. On our trip to London this past August I had hoped to come by one of these taxi shelters and grab a cup'o' tea just to say I had done it. I saw it on a travel show and it seemed a very insider-y thing to do. So if you do stop by one drink a cup for me.

  7. A good idea and the shelter also looks cute.

  8. Its a great idea and your blog template is lovely...
    Southend taxi