Green cab shelters


Green Cab Shelters are a quaint anachronism from Victorian days and very, very English. First of all, as a result of the stipulations at the time, that Green Cab Shelters had to be situated on public highways. They could be no bigger than a horse and cart. Because of this ruling, do not draw attention to themselves, and as a result, they are often overlooked.

20120510-010648 AM.jpg

‘Offsales are for all but only those with “The Knowledge” get a seat inside.’

These small Green Cab Shelters, providing refreshments are dotted around London’s streets. Seek them out for many open to the public for takeaway sales, and hence are well worth a visit.

Out in all weathers

In Victorian days, the cab driver’s vehicle of choice was a Hansom Cab. A horse-drawn carriage which was open to the elements for the cabbie. He was expected to ‘sit on the box’ in rain, snow, cold and wind waiting for a fare, consequently the only place of sustenance being the comfort of a public house.

To use a hostelry meant paying someone to watch the cab and the horse, due to it being illegal to leave them unattended. For this, most cabbies would have a lad who was employed for this purpose, as well as for the carrying of cases and general menial jobs.

The Green Cab Shelters addressed those concerns

Equipped with somewhere to tie up the horse, a small kitchen they could serve food, seating for up to 13 diners. Most of all, when Green Cab Shelters first opened in 1875 they supplied books and newspapers, a luxury for the poorly paid cabbies.

Most noteworthy of all, gambling, drinking, swearing and political discussion were strictly forbidden.

Green Cab Shelters have been providing shelter and sustenance to cabbies for over 140 years. Check out their history, construction, facilities and miscellaneous facts.

Follow these links for more information about Green Cab Shelters

Inspiration
Early years
13 Survivors
Those lost
Miscellany

Check out the last Green Cab Shelters

Only a dozen or so of these Green Cab Shelters. Many cabbie huts were destroyed in the Blitz. With the subsequent post-war redevelopment and road widening the shelters went into decline leaving only thirteen. When the Greater London Council folded, the bacon butty was passed to the Heritage of London Trust. They have underwritten the renovation of all but two of the Green Cab Shelters, at a cost of £25,000 each. They are now Grade II listed buildings and protected by English Heritage. They’re worth searching out. Their 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.

Go and visit one during the London Open House weekend, or just buy a takeaway.

Main image: Cab shelter, Kensington Road from a bus © 1Q89

12 thoughts on “Green cab shelters”

  1. I worked at Little Venice cab shelter about 20 years ago and loved it wish I could do it again. Love the cabbies so looked after me “Is there a space for me and pie and mash” as I worked.

    Like

  2. Thanks I hope you liked my summary of London’s Green Cab Shelters. Unfortunately its a diminishing asset, with drivers choosing Pret a Manager or any other of the more fashionable outlets.

    Like

  3. My godmother Mrs Beatty ran the Warwick Avenue shelter and on occasion looked after me there. Lovely memory as my great grandfather, both grandfathers, various uncles were all cabbies.

    Like

  4. What a wonderful memory. I’m hoping to try to write a definitive account of the Cabbies’ Green Shelters when I have time. Thanks for the comment it will help in my research.

    Like

  5. My father used to take me into the shelter in St John’s wood early 70s. The cabbies used to have to watch their language. I was around 10 years old. The shelter was run by a man called Leslie.

    Like

What do you have to say for yourself?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Taxi talk without tipping

%d bloggers like this: