Service was a learning project that investigated the lives of cabdrivers and shelter-keepers that use the remaining twelve Victorian Cabmen Shelters in London, and what they do there. Looking at the physical nature of the shelters – the materials, the construction and the activities in the space – was a way of exploring the history of the shelters and the people who are connected with them. Understanding the lives of cabdrivers, the history of how they have worked and the changing conditions in London gave context to the shelters and how they came to be where they are.
Victoria Turnbull co-led Service with artist in residence Shaun Dolan and teachers Nicola Frankcom and Melissa Hind at Chelsea Community Hospital School, working with students aged 4 – 17 years old, other teachers and medical staff at Royal Brompton Hospital, Collingham Child and Family Centre, St Mary’s Hospital and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.
For the Cabbie Shelter Project, Victoria Turnbull has produced ‘The Cabbies’ Cup’, a limited edition disposable paper cup. Taking one of the few remaining pieces of material culture left from the shelters, a ¾ pint cabbies’ tea cup from the 1940s as a starting off point, students and teachers at Chelsea Community Hospital School have created designs and logos, in response to the history of the shelters, and the stories of the men and women who used them. The Cabbies’ Cup is a reminder of a history of lost objects from the Shelters and the stories that have almost been lost with them. These cups will be available from the Cabbies’ Shelter at Temple Place in September and October alongside a display of models, drawings and photographs from the year-long project.
Victoria Turnbull has written and illustrated an activity guide about the Cabbies’ Shelter. The guide brings together workshop ideas and activities from her commission for the Cabbies’ Shelter Project and is designed as an informal guide to visiting the shelters with things to do and make at home or at school. Developed by teachers, gallery educators and artists from Chelsea Community Hospital Schools, St Aidan’s Primary School, CET primary school and the London Transport Museum, it is available for download at the Cabbies’ Shelters Project or in print at Temple Shelter and at the welcome desk of the London Transport Museum.