Cabmen’s Shelters: Living History of London

When wandering around the streets of London, visitors often overlook small green shacks. They are actually Cabmen’s Shelters, that have been around for over a century: since 1875 to be exact.

Back then, cab drivers drove a horse-drawn carriage called the hansom cab. Drivers were not allowed to leave it on the street unattended, so they had to pay someone to look after the carriage. Often, driver stoped by a pub, where besides a hot meal, there was a temptation of an alcohol.

In 1875, The Globe newspaper editor George Armstrong needed a cab, to take him to his office. But, his servant was unable to find one, as the cab drivers were drunk, while waiting out the snow storm in a warm pub. Then, Armstrong along with the other noble men, decided to establish shelter for a cabmen. They created a charity: the Cabmen’s Shelter Fund, that offered shelter, hot meal and beverages at reasonable prices for the drivers. Each shack had a kitchen, benches, tables along with, books and newspapers. Since the cab drivers had a quite a lonely job, they went there to take a break, unwind and socialise.

Soon, over sixty sheds were built all over London, though only thirteen of them are standing today, they are still run by the Cabmen’s Shelter Fund. Initially, the shelter was stricktly for the cab drivers, but today they serve general public.

Sources: Wikipedia, The Guardian, Heritage Open Days, Cabbie Blog, Amusing Planet, Heritage and History.

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