Site Unseen: Grosvenor Gardens

Every month CabbieBlog hopes to show you a little gem of a building that you might have passed without noticing, in the past, they have ranged from a modernist car park; a penguin pool; to a Hanoverian gatehouse.

Recently I’ve re-organised the Green Cab Shelters page into more manageable chunks as the original had become very large and unreadable.

[I]T THEN occurred to me that the Green Cab Shelters really were ‘a site unseen’, even by me, and therefore have not been included in this regular monthly post.

Historic England has not been so unobservant and recommended one should now be given historic status.

Following the destruction caused by World War II (including many Green Shelters), the Town and Country Planning Act of 1947 put a listings system in place to identify buildings considered special enough to be protected during post-war rebuilding.

The list we know today includes buildings and landscapes of historical or architectural interest with around 400,000 entries spanning everything from windmills and palaces to piers and plague crosses. While 514 of the entries are pigsties and 13 dung pits.

The listing where preservation is deemed necessary in order for current and future generations to enjoy, has included some bizarre inclusions in London, including a concrete diving board at the former Purley Way Lido in Croydon, a skatepark in Hornchurch and that zebra crossing on Abbey Road, itself having been moved since the famous album cover, but don’t tell the tourists that.

On the 70th anniversary of this listing initiative, on the advice of Historic England, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (‘DCMS’) added to the National Heritage List for England a Cabbies’ Green Shelter.

Built in 1906, this one [featured] can be found in Grosvenor Gardens and passed by thousands every day on this busy junction, one of the last of only 13 still standing in London.

Today it’s still used by black cab drivers as a place to rest and grab refreshments between jobs. But it was originally built to combat cabbies taking shelter in pubs to escape the elements during shifts and drinking while waiting for customers.

Its appearance – a cross between a cricket pavilion and a large garden shed – serves to underscore the truth that the cab trade is so ancient that it pre-existed the modern city.

Featured image: London Cabmen’s Shelter, Grosvenor Gardens, 5th May 2017 © David Lovell Historic England

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