St George’s Square Cab Shelter (London, UK)

You occasionally find some interesting hidden items in London, sometimes even hidden in plain sight. St Georges Square is a relatively modest Square in Pimlico, and contains the Pimlico Garden, which aside from a modest statue representing "Boredom rising from the bath", isn’t of much note itself. But on the North end of the garden lies one of the few remaining examples of an anachronism: a Cabmen’s Shelter Fund Cab Shelter.

Basically a small shelter containing a seating area for cab drivers on their break, and a cooking area (often staffed by the Cabmen’s Shelter Fund, historically, these days often contracted out), these little shelters used to be fairly common all over London, with over 60 of them in the early 1900s.

They aren’t as common now (only 13 of them remain in service), but for a small handful of them, the caterers in them are also open to the public, selling the same food out of a window that they sell to the cabbies. St George’s Square has one of these, a business called Alf’s Pitstop, who sells a variety of sandwiches and drinks to the public.

So I wandered down to St George’s Square to check out how good a cab shelter bacon roll actually is. Walking up, it’s just a subtle window and a menu board on the side of the cab shelter. It’s not much to look at as far as the catering operation: it’s basically an electric range, a refrigerator, a small counter, and a microwave. But if you lean in and peek to the left, you can also see the “shelter” part of the cab shelter, with some benches and a small table.

As far as the menu goes? It’s really not much different than any other snack sandwich stand. They’ve got crusty rolls and sliced bread, and toppings ranging from bacon (of course) and sausage, to roast beef and other light sandwiches. Looking over the options, I had to go with the classic British choice: the bacon roll. I always love the simplicity of this sandwich: a roll (preferably crusty), some bacon, and maybe some brown sauce. And here, they’ve got a good bacon roll: the roll is nice and crusty, the bacon nicely seared and crisped, and the brown sauce amply applied but not over-applied. This was, in short, a good bacon roll. Good enough that I’ll probably come back. Honestly, for the overall Pimlico area, I prefer the bacon rolls over at The Regency Cafe, or from West Cornwall Pasty over in Victoria Station, but this roll was a close third. And quite frankly, since it’s less than 5 minutes from the flat. I’ll most likely be back. And I can enjoy a great part of the London cabby tradition.

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