Cabman's shelter

Cabman's shelter

In Brief

Shortly after passing by the "hazard" in Lotus Eaters, Bloom passes the accompanying "cabman's shelter" on Great Brunswick Street. In Eumaeus Bloom and Stephen stop for a bite to eat and a cup of coffee at another cabman's shelter "near Butt Bridge," where Beresford Place meets the northern quays. The narrative calls it "an unpretentious wooden structure," which certainly describes the building in Tindall's photograph from the 1950s.

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According to Norman Beattie's webpage at, the first cabman's shelter was erected in London in 1875, after an influential newspaper publisher, Sir George Armstrong, sent his servant out on a cold January day to secure a cab. "The servant was a long time returning because the drivers had all abandoned their cabs and retired to the warmth and conviviality of a local pub." Sir George raised funds to build heated shelters nearer the cabstands, and the first one was constructed at the stand nearest his house.

The idea was soon picked up by "the Cabmens Shelter Fund, which equipped them with kitchens and employed retired cabbies to operate them. The shelters themselves were usually small green sheds capable of seating about a dozen customers. At their peak there were over 60 of them in London." The shelters charged for food and drink, and anyone who wished could come in off the street and order a meal. No alcohol was served, so in addition to their air of being philanthropic enterprises, the shelters could claim to be promoting abstinence. In Eumaeus, Bloom nurses dislike of the shelters, but he concedes that they "beyond yea or nay did a world of good, shelters such as the present one they were in run on teetotal lines for vagrants at night."

JH 2014
The cabman's shelter at Butt Bridge, with the Loopline railway bridge passing overhead, in the 1950s. Cabs are being driven toward the bridge at the right of the photograph. Source: Tindall, The Joyce Country.