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  • Writer's picturePeter Berthoud

Save the Porters Rest on Piccadilly

Updated: Jul 23, 2022

In 1861 this curious piece of street furniture was installed on Piccadilly. It stood there for over a hundred and fifty years. In the past few months Westminster City Council have removed this Grade II listed structure without any explanation. A petition has been launched to reinstate it.

Porters Rest, Piccadilly in 2013
Porters Rest, Piccadilly in 2013 by Peter Berthoud

Porters rests were once a common sight in London. The one on Piccadilly was I believe, the last survivor. Many people are annoyed that this little bit of London’s history has been removed and many more are cross that Westminster City Council are refusing to explain their decision.

The rest was used by porters to place their burdens upon, thereby saving the effort of placing a heavy load on the floor and then having to reach down to relift it up onto a shoulder. You can see a little film of the Piccadilly rest in use here at British Pathe.

A brass plaque on the rest explained why it was erected:

“At the suggestion of R A Slaney Esq who for 20 years represented Shrewsbury in Parliament. This Porters rest was erected in 1861 by the Vestry of St George Hanover Square for the benefit of porters and others carrying burdens. As a relic of a past period in London’s history, it is hoped that the people will aid its preservation.”

So why have Westminster City Council removed it? We don’t know. They won’t answer or return my calls. Dozens of people have tweeted them over the past few days and there has been no official response.

Westminster’s own planning pages offer few clues. It appears that a “complaint” was “generated internally”. The Porter’s Rest was deemed to be a “General Nuisance (loss of amenity)”.

The decision, the date of the decision and the reason for the decision to remove it are marked “Not Available”. The Case Officer is also “not available” for comment. The decision status is marked as “Pending Consideration” and yet the Porter’s Rest has already been removed. There are no supporting documents of any type.

Is this an appropriate way for Westminster City Council to treat a Grade II listed and protected Historic structure?

The petition to have the Porter’s Rest reinstated launches today. If you value London’s magnificent heritage please take a moment to sign it and please encourage others to do so.

UPDATE: The Porters Rest was reinstated at a ceremony on Piccadilly 12th May 2016. Can't confirm whether it is the original or a replica but good news either way. Thank you to everyone who supported the petition.


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