I came across the cabman's shelters in London a few months ago and feel they are worth mentioning on the blog. They are now part of the City of London tour that I lead and cant help but talking about them everytime I see them.
The cabman's shelter is a small green house shape structure that can be seen in parts of London. They are odd looking buildings that are usually populated with hearty taxi drivers drinking a brew or tucking into a cheese sandwich. They first hit the streets of London in the mid 1870's, the law in the old days ment that taxi drivers must not leave there vechicle at anytime, which made it difficult for them to use the toilet or to grab something to eat! However, the Earl of Shaftsbury came up with a charity (Cabmen's Shelter Fund) to build small structures that would house a place for poor taxi drivers to sit down for a cuppa or a bite to eat.
Being on the side of roads it ment that the shelters could be no bigger than a horse and carriage (hence the small size). However, within the shelter it is possible to fit a working kitchen with 2 staff and seating for 13 taxi drivers. The shelters are now grade listed buildings but are still in use. The cabmen are not allowed to swear, drink or gamble in the shelter and although the public are not allowed inside they can buy tea and bacon sarnies from the open window round the back.
So next time your in London look out for this fantastic hidden secret that is staring you in the face. There are only 13 left so look out for them. Plus its a fantastic and cheap place to buy lunch. I got a cup of tea and a bacon sarnie for under £2.00! But if you have more than 3 sugars in your tea they will charge an extra 5p for every spoonful!
Cabman's Shelter - Near Temple Tube Station