Victorian Cabmen’s Shelter

Our Victorian horse cabmen’s shelter from Bradford has recently been restored and can be explored during a visit to Crich Tramway Village. If you are unable to visit, or you’d like to find out more about the shelter’s history, you can step inside virtually using the online tours below!

Cabmen’s shelters were built in towns and cities across Britain from the early 1870s to provide the drivers of hackney carriages and hansom cabs with somewhere warm and dry to wait between passenger fares. They also provided a place for refreshments, away from the public houses! The RSPCA supported the Bradford shelters as part of their mission to improve the welfare of working horses. Cabmen’s shelters provided drivers with a supply of water for their horses, along with somewhere to dry the rugs used to keep them warm in cold weather.

A man dressed as a Victorian horse tram driver sat inside a shelter having a cup of tea

The shelter at Crich was installed in Bradford in 1877 and remained in use outside the Exchange Railway station until moving to The National Tramway Museum in 1973. Having deteriorated over the years, work commenced in 2020 to restore the shelter to how it looked when it was built in 1877.

Following the first phase of work by Dorothea Restorations, staff from the Tramway Museum’s conservation workshop team used the original architect’s drawings to fit out the interior to recreate the 1877 appearance. Features include bench seating with storage ‘locker’ space below, a table, coal locker, hand basin and stove. Visitors can now experience the inside of the shelter as it might have felt in Victorian Bradford, complete with sounds and smells!

To find out more about the project, take a look at this blog or watch the video below, which is a brief history of the cabmen’s shelter and its recent restoration (duration: 2 minutes 22 seconds).



Virtual Tour

You can now explore the cabmen’s shelter using the online virtual tour below. This was created through 3D scanning of the shelter by ‘V21 Artspace’ before and after restoration. Move around the inside of the shelter and click on the marked points to find out more through text, images and film clips. Features include archive footage of Bradford Town Hall Square filmed in 1896, a photograph of an RSPCA Inspector examining a horse in 1903, and three paintings of real Bradford cabmen in the Victorian period.

Click on the image below to ‘enter’ the cabmen’s shelter and start exploring!

Hint: on a computer you can make the images bigger by clicking on the ‘full screen’ symbol in the top right hand corner of the virtual tour screen.


Step back in time to Victorian Bradford

Explore the cabmen’s shelter in Victorian Bradford in this special CGI recreation tour below. You can move around the inside of the shelter and press the brass buttons to light the fire, turn on the tap, boil the kettle and more!

You can turn off the background sound using the mute button on the tour screen.
If you have a VR headset, you can also access a VR version of this tour by clicking on the ‘VR’ symbol on the screen.


Here are a few images showing the restored cabmen’s shelter. The interior has been recreated to how it looked when it was built in 1877, according to the architect’s drawings. 


Inside Cabmen's Shelter1
IInside Cabmen's Shelter2
Inside Cabmen's Shelter3

This project was funded through an Arts Council England National Lottery Project Grant, the Association for Industrial Archaeology and the Pilgrim Trust.

Crich Tramway Village is a brand name for the National Tramway Museum (Accredited with Arts Council England), solely owned and operated by The Tramway Museum Society, incorporated in England with liability by guarantee (no. 744229). Registered charity number 313615. Our ICO number is Z6700136.

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