ST GILES’, OXFORD

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The Cabmen’s Shelters


Original shelter, built in 1876 (no longer surviving)

In October 1875 an appeal was launched for the first cabmen’s shelter in St Giles, and a committee was formed in December that year with the aim of making the shelter “worthy of the place which it is to occupy”.

This earlier shelter (built by William Brucker of St John’s Road at a cost of £70) was opened on 18 April 1876. It was a wooden structure on wheels, very similar in style to the Broad Street shelter that was to be erected around the corner nine years later.

Cabmen's shelter in the snow

 

Left: This detail from a snowy 1908 postcard shows that the original 1876 cabmen’s shelter was then positioned just to the north of the Martyrs’ Memorial. (The railings in front of the shelter mark the underground men’s toilet, built in 1895 and doubtless much welcomed by the cab drivers.)

 

By 1889, the Cab Stand at St Giles was listed as a telephone subscriber with the number Oxford 58, and presumably the telephone was inside this shelter.


Second surviving shelter, built in 1896

In November 1895 plans were submitted by S. Hutchins for an additional shelter, to be sited initially at the north end of St Giles.This second shelter originally had a table in the middle, seats and lockers around the sides, running water and a sink, but no lavatories. The architect’s plans are shown below.

Plans for the shelter
The above plan is reproduced with permission of Oxfordshire Studies (now the Oxfordshire History Centre)

Cabstand in 1920s
This detail from a postcard shows the position of the shelter, with a horse-cab waiting on the left

In 1907, this second shelter still stood in the middle of the road to the south of St Giles Church, and was used as a temporary police station during St Giles’ Fair. By 1915 it had been moved southwards near St John’s College, and it now stands out of the way of the traffic instead of in the midst of it

Cabmen's shelter

This second shelter in St Giles' (left in 2004 when it was unoccupied and below in 2005 when it was Najar's Place) still survives.

From 1996 it was rented from Oxford City Council by the Oxford Rickshaw Company as its booking office and operations base. When that company went into liquidation in 1998, it was taken on by Jem-i-ni Flowers, who converted it into a flower shop with toilet facilities; the renovation, which cost £20,000, won an Oxford Preservation Trust award. It was then used as a souvenir shop. but since summer 2004 it has been a refreshment hut.

Cab hut in 2005

Thirteen examples of cabmen's shelters survive in London, and many of them, such as this one in Northumberland Avenue, are listed structures.

St Giles’ home

Stephanie Jenkins

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