Cabmen’s Shelter, Ripon

Cabmen’s Shelter, Ripon

On a recent visit to Ripon in North Yorkshire, in a corner of the main town square, I discovered a delightful little structure, beautifully maintained and looked after by the local council.

It was a Cabmen’s Shelter, built in 1911 for the use of local horse-drawn cab drivers to relax and shelter in with a cup of tea while waiting in all weathers for their customers – or fares as they were called in those days.

As well as providing shelter, the facility helped keep the cab drivers out of the local pubs.  Drunk driving was evidently a problem then too.

It was donated by a lady called Sarah Carter who was the daughter of a former mayor of the town.

The shelter was built by the firm of Boulton and Paul a Norwich joinery firm who also constructed the huts and sledges for Scott’s 1910 – 1913 Antarctic expedition.  It was later well known for producing a wide range of machinery, aircraft and  building products, including a range of economical standard windows which were specified as matter of course by architects and builders in the 1950s,1960s and 1970s for new homes in the post war period.

The shelter has been restored three times during its history and is now owned by Ripon City Council having been given back to the Council in 1999 by its previous owners, Ripon Civic Society who in earlier times had rescued and restored the shelter to its original condition.

It is a Grade II listed structure. The shelter is set on wheels and could thus be seen as being a vehicle or trailer (which cannot be listed), rather than a structure. However because the wheels have now been set into concrete blocks so that it cannot be towed away without lifting, it was deemed to count as a structure and thus eligible for listing.

I was struck by the way in which the little shelter sat very comfortably in the town square.  It wasn’t disfigured by graffiti, the windows hadn’t been smashed or replaced with perspex clouded by attempts to scrub off graffiti tagging, the paintwork was immaculate.  All the signs were that it was very well looked after and cared for.

Unlike here in Brighton.  The contrast with the way our listed Art Deco bus shelters are constantly vandalised, glass smashed, and covered in graffiti and tagging was very marked.

If a small town like Ripon can look after its urban heritage assets, why can’t Brighton? 

It makes you feel ashamed of our city.


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