Ryde Social Heritage Group research the social history of the citizens of Ryde, Isle of Wight. Documenting their lives, businesses and burial transcriptions.
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Ryde Cabmen’s Shelter

Cabmen in front of their Shelter

In 1876 a number of benevolent Christians of Ryde endeavoured to do something to remedy the condition of the cabmen.  After visiting Portsmouth, they noticed the cabmen’s shelter there. It was a comfortable place, where warmth and comfort may be obtained without resorting to the public-house.  There, cabby could sit and watch his horse while enjoying the cup of coffee he had warmed on the stove, and may also improve his mind by a glance at the daily paper.  A number of friends had thought about providing somesuch shelter for the Ryde flymen.

A meeting was held at the Young Men’s Christian Association when a committee was appointed to consider the advisability of providing a shelter for the flymen on the Esplanade, similar to those in other towns. Mr. Thos. Dashwood, J.P. occupied the chair. The considerable number present carried the motion unanimously. It was agreed that such a moveable structure would cost about £120. It was also agreed that application should be made to the Council for permission.

Mr. Jacobs of Hazelwood, the respected secretary of the association was in charge of the business.  Subscriptions were numerous, including £10 from Miss Brigstocke.

In 1878 at the cabmen’s annual dinner, the Mayor proposed a vote of thanks to Mr. Jacobs for the interest he had taken in the cabmen’s welfare.  In reply, Mr. Jacobs said that the shelter was the handsomest in England, next to that in Westminster Palace yard.  (more about Mr Jacobs here)

In December 1886 at the cabmen’s tea, which was paid for by Miss Brigstocke, all the cabmen, wheelmen and their wives were invited, and nearly 100 responded to the invitation.   A substantial tea of ham, beef, mutton, cake, marmalade, &c. was much enjoyed.

It was said that the local cabmen had found a friend in Mr. W. Jacobs of Hazelwood.  It was some years since that Mr. Jacobs, walking on the Esplanade in winter, was struck by the blue cold noses and wrinkled brows of the cabmen exposed to all weathers in that inclement locality.  Feeling that temptations of the neighbouring public-houses must be irresistible to men under such circumstances, he originated the idea of a comfortable shelter, and with the aid of a number of benevolent ladies and gentlemen, obtained the funds to carry the same into effect.

Shelter bottom of George Street

In September 1889 the council decided to move the cab shelter to opposite the bottom of George Street, and although the cabmen put forward a memorial stating it would be no use to them if it was moved as they could not see their horses, the Town Council arranged to move the shelter to where it had been agreed.

In April 1922 the Borough Surveyor reported that the Cabmen’s Shelter was in a dilapidated and ruinous condition and suggested that it should be removed or repaired, the cost of which would estimate at £116.  Having regard to the fact that the Esplanade was shortly to be re-constructed, he recommended its removal.  Mr. Jacobs had collected sums in 1902, and the shelter was placed in the keeping of the town authorities.  Since then the circumstances had changed and there was a new set of vehicles on the road, and each motor driver had a shelter of his own.

The original resolution for the committee’s recommendation to remove it was carried by 9, to 5 against.

sources: RSHG Archive, IW. Observer
photo: Roy Brinton Collection
Postcard: Ann Barrett Collection