Why these green huts have been given protected status in London

Back in 1800s London, when cabs were all horse-drawn, the city’s cabmen’s shelters provided a necessary rest-stop for weary drivers to fuel up and stretch out. The shelters once lined the capital’s streets, and were just large enough to fit a kitchen and space for ten cabbies inside.

Between 1875 and 1950, 61 of these shelters were built throughout London – but these days only 13 remain. And today (April 9), the last of those surviving green huts has been granted official Grade II ‘listed’ status by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to protect it for future generations. The final listed hut sits at Wellington Place in St John’s Wood (NW8). 

The shelters were first dreamed up by Captain George C Armstrong as a solution to cabbies holing up in pubs during bad weather (which often left passengers unable to catch a ride). The stops ensured that drivers had enough strength to continue on their journey without requiring large amounts of liquid courage, and instead served tea and food. First constructed in 1875, the shelters were easily recognisable for their distinctive green colour and neat shape and size. 

Today, the remaining shelters are now all listed – and some are even still open to the public for refreshments. Here are some more photographs of the shelters.

Listing.Cabmens Shelter, Wellington Place, St John's Wood,  City Of Westminster, Greater London.View from north west.
Photograph: Chris Redgrave
exterior view of a cabman's shelter in London, greater london
Photograph: Historic England

The Cabmen’s Shelter Fund (CSF) will celebrate its 150th anniversary next year and continues to oversee and service the 13 remaining huts. Many were last restored during the 1980s and ’90s.

About the listing of the shelters, Dr Nicola Stacey, Director of Heritage of London Trust said: ‘We’re proud to have helped save the 13 shelters over the last 40 years. These are unique London landmarks as well as an ingenious Victorian solution to the frenetic city streets. Today they’re still a sanctuary for the London cabbie community.’

Want to tour London’s baker’s dozen of cabmen’s shelters? You can find a full list of them and their locations here. 

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