The cabmen’s shelter

The Broad Street cabstand

Most old postcards of Broad Street show this cabmen’s shelter, which stood in the middle of the street from 1885 to 1912. The Oxford Chronicle of 25 July 1885 has this report on the new shelter:

By the praiseworthy efforts of Miss Acland a Cabmen’s Shelter was on Monday opened in Broad Street. The building is a very comfortable place. It was built by Messrs Bart, Axtell & Co. at a cost of about £120. Under the seats are lockers, in which, through the kindness of Miss Acland and friends, a number of books have been placed, and there is also a substantial tea and dinner service. Among those present at the opening, besides the cabmen, were Sir Henry Acland, K.C.B., the Rector of Exeter, Miss Acland, Miss Lightfoot, Mrs Macdonald, Mr W.G. Ward, and Mr Norton, Secretary. — Miss Acland, in opening the shelter, said she hoped the men who used it would keep the rules which have been agreed upon. They were very few and very simple, and she expressed a hope that they would find the shelter a great comfort. — The Secretary read the rules, and said he had no doubt they would be observed. He supposed they knew they were indebted to Miss Acland for the benefit — (applause) — and she had done it all. He was sure they would appreciate it and that it would lead to sobriety and comfort. — A cabman returned thanks to Miss Acland. — Sir Henry Acland, K.C.B., said his daughter had received very gratefully their thanks. It had been truly said that the shelter which had been provided for their comfort was entirely due to Miss Acland, who by her perseverance and industry had provided the money necessary, for he knew she had written three or four hundred letters for them. He thought an object of that kind well deserved any amount of labour connected with it. It was true it was a small thing, but in England some of the best and most valuable institutions had been small. It was amongst the industrial classes more particularly that they looked for examples of upright family life. There was one other thing, although it might be of too domestic a character. In setting this object on foot Miss Acland had followed in the footsteps of her mother, whose memory had been perpetuated by the goodness of those who loved her, by the Institution of the District Home for Nurses. Her daughter had been carrying on a portion of work which she used to do. He hoped that institution would be taken care of for her sake. (Applause.) On the table they would find some of the good things, and he hoped they would make use of them. There were also good books in the lockers, — he did not mean only religious books, but there were some good books on every subject. Miss Acland had subscribed for a daily paper, and he hoped they would make better use of it than some people did. He hoped from it they would acquire moderate views, and that they would not be violent for or against any mere party, but be thoughtful citizens looking to the well being and happiness of all. (Applause.) The proceedings then terminated.

The Acland family lived at 40–41 Broad Street from 1847 to 1900. Sir Henry and Lady Acland had seven sons and just one daughter, Sarah Angelina, who was born on 26 June 1849. After the death of her mother in 1878, Sarah became her father’s housekeeper.

Opening of University Museum

Above: Sarah Acland (aged 5) and her brother present a trowel to the Chancellor of the University, the Earl of Derby. at the laying of the foundation stone of the University Museum on 20 June 1855, just before her sixth birthday

The shelter had wheels and could be moved about. It closely resembles the shelter erected nine years earlier in St Giles’ Street.

Shelter from colour postcard

Shelter from west

ShelterCabmen’s shelter


In May 1912 the cabstand was demolished in the interest of creating a garden in the middle of Broad Street. This was an idea that had been put forward by the Mayor, the builder Thomas Kingerlee, but local traders as well as the displaced cabmen were against it, and the idea was soon abandoned.

A new cabmen’s shelter with a pointed roof (left) was built by 1924.

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