Ever wanted to sneak into one of those diminutive green huts that decorate the squares and streets of central London? This is the secret abode of the cab drivers, a place where cabbies can get a hot meal, exchange gossip or enjoy a cup of tea. A new arts project explores the history and culture of these verdant shacks, and you might even get to go inside one.
The first cab shelters appeared in 1875, and eventually 61 were constructed around London. Today, just 13 remain (fans of stereotypes might chuckle to note that all are north of the river). All carry Grade II listed status.
The Cabbies’ Shelters Project takes place over the next few weeks, offering performances, talks and the fruits of three artistic commissions. The fun starts this weekend when, as part of the Open House programme, you can gain access to three of the shelters (Saturday: Embankment, Temple, St John's Wood, all 10am-4pm; Sunday, just Embankment 11am-4pm).
You can then track down three pieces of cab-themed art. The Embankment shelter will display Hippocampus by Cathy Prendergast, a map of prominent cabbie routes that resembles a cluster of blood vessels. A recital and film by Emma Smith draws on oral history interviews with cabbies — with connected performances taking place at various shelters in October. Finally, Victoria Turnbull has brought together cab-shelter-related material for teachers, students and anyone curious to learn more — look out for the yellow QR codes affixed to each shelter. Further walks and events will be announced soon.
The Cabbies’ Shelters Project is curated and managed by the Creative Intelligence Agency. You can learn more about the shelters' history from the Cabmen's Shelter Fund. Ends 19 October.