History in Structure

Chelsea Embankment Cabmen's Shelter

A Grade II Listed Building in Chelsea Riverside, London

More Photos »
Approximate Location Map
Large Map »


Latitude: 51.4833 / 51°28'59"N

Longitude: -0.1676 / 0°10'3"W

OS Eastings: 527331

OS Northings: 177631

OS Grid: TQ273776

Mapcode National: GBR 6Q.KF

Mapcode Global: VHGQZ.1ZQ8

Plus Code: 9C3XFRMJ+8W

Entry Name: Chelsea Embankment Cabmen's Shelter

Listing Date: 25 May 2022

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1474999

ID on this website: 101474999

Location: Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, London, SW3

County: London

District: Kensington and Chelsea

Electoral Ward/Division: Chelsea Riverside

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Kensington and Chelsea

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London


Cabman's Shelter, 1912.


Cabmen’s shelter, erected 1912 for the Cabmen’s Shelter Fund as a later variation of Maximilian Clarke's ‘ornamental’ design. Subject to repairs and some replacement of components in the 1970s-1980s and in 2022.

MATERIALS: oak frame with timber cladding (painted Buckingham green).

EXTERIOR: shelter of nine framed bays with two end bays, set on an elevated platform. The posts and rails of the timber frame are expressed with panels of vertical boarding set between. The entrance door is on the north side with two four-light windows on either side. On both end bays there is a small window integrated into the upper panel. On the south side, there are two thin, rectangular windows also integrated into the upper outer panels. The roof is hipped with overhanging eaves and exposed joist ends, and there is a square, louvered ventilation lantern in the centre of the ridge, capped with a tented rooflet. Interior not inspected, but is not understood to retain any historic fixtures.


The Cabmen’s Shelter Fund (CSF) was established in London in January 1875 for the purpose of supplying cabmen, when on the ranks, with a place of shelter where they could rest and order refreshments. Prior to the establishment of dedicated shelters, the drivers of London’s horse-drawn hansom cabs were constantly exposed to the elements and prohibited by law from leaving the rank when waiting for custom. Consequently, many took shelter in pubs between trips, which had a tendency to lead them to ‘drink more than is good for their health or behaviour’, as the Illustrated London News of 20 February 1875 reported. The idea of providing shelters on the ranks was first conceived in 1874 by Captain George C Armstrong, editor of The Globe newspaper. When Armstrong’s servant was unable to obtain a cab during a storm because the drivers had all sought refuge in local pubs, he decided to band together a group of wealthy and influential philanthropists to provide a solution. Under the presidency of the Earl of Shaftsbury, and with the support of notable figures including the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII), the Duke of Westminster and the writer George Moore, the Fund began constructing small cabins along many major thoroughfares for the benefit of London’s cabmen. The first was a moveable shelter on Acacia Road in St John’s Wood, outside Armstrong’s house. This was built in February 1875 to a simple design, consisting of a part-glazed timber panelled box with a shallow-pitched roof and canted end bays, without any notable decorative features.

Later shelter designs by prominent architects became more sophisticated. In 1879 George Aitchison was appointed the first Honorary Architect to the CSF and a more detailed design was established. A long since lost example outside the Law Courts on The Strand (photographed in late C19) with an ornate hipped and double-tiered roof integrating a thin clerestory and decorative finials appears to reflect Aitchison’s influence. Also established under his influence was the standard rectangular framework for shelters. Some of these key design tropes were further developed by architect Maximillian Clarke, responsible for what became the most recognisable ‘ornamental’ shelter type. This design was distinguished by its hipped roof with gablets and ornamental dormers, overhanging eaves with exposed joist ends, a central louvered ventilation lantern and decorative fretwork panels bearing the ‘CSF’ monogram. The Chelsea Embankment shelter represents a simplified version of Clarke’s ornamental model, without the gablets, ornamental dormers or decorative fretwork, which appear to have been modified through later repair.

The shelter at Chelsea Embankment, sometimes referred to as ‘The Pier’ due to its close proximity to Cadogan Pier, was erected by the CSF in 1912, originally positioned on Royal Hospital Road to the east of the present site. The shelter became redundant and fell into a poor state of repair following the introduction of the Red Route along Chelsea Embankment in 1999, which prevented cab drivers from stopping here. There have been repairs to the shelter in 1970s, 1980s and, most recently, in 2022. The latest restoration, funded by the Heritage Trust for London, has been undertaken with a view to repurposing the shelter as a public kiosk.

Over the course of the C20 most London Cabmen’s Shelters were lost. Owing to their positions in relatively exposed sites, generally alongside or in the middle of key thoroughfares, the shelters were prone to damage from traffic and vandalism, and vulnerable to the impacts of metropolitan road-widening schemes. Of the 61 shelters known to have been built between 1875 and 1950 only 13 now survive. Included in this number is the Chelsea Embankment shelter, which is still overseen and maintained by the CSF.

Reasons for Listing

Chelsea Embankment cabmen’s shelter, erected 1912 by the Cabmen's Shelter Fund, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural Interest:

* for its distinctive ornamental design and neatly detailed, well-executed carpentry work.

* as a fine example of a shelter erected by the Cabmen’s Shelter Fund in 1912 based on Maximillian Clarke’s design of 1882.

Historical Interest:

* as a rare and well-preserved relic of London’s hansom cab trade.

Group Value:

* with the Grade II*-listed Albert Bridge and Grade II-listed embankment immediately to the south, along with the Francis Derwent Wood Memorial in the adjacent Embankment Gardens and other listed buildings on Cheyne Walk to the north.

External Links

External links are from the relevant listing authority and, where applicable, Wikidata. Wikidata IDs may be related buildings as well as this specific building. If you want to add or update a link, you will need to do so by editing the Wikidata entry.

Recommended Books

Other nearby listed buildings

BritishListedBuildings.co.uk is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact BritishListedBuildings.co.uk for any queries related to any individual listed building, planning permission related to listed buildings or the listing process itself.

British Listed Buildings is a Good Stuff website.