Former Stapleton's Horse and Carriage Repository


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
106 and 106a Commercial Street, London, E1 6LZ


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Statutory Address:
106 and 106a Commercial Street, London, E1 6LZ

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Greater London Authority
Tower Hamlets (London Borough)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Former horse repository. Built or modified around 1890 as Stapleton’s Horse and Carriage Repository around an existing courtyard with stabling and frontage building possibly from around 1860-1870. Alterations to the frontage building and courtyard roof in the C20. In 2013 the office building and other parts of the site were renovated and altered.

Reasons for Designation

106 and 106a Commercial Street, Spitalfields, the former Stapleton's Horse and Carriage Repository built or adapted around 1890, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* as a rare surviving example of a multi-storey repository for the sale of horses and carriages;

* for the architectural pretension of its frontage building with its high quality decorative brickwork;

* for the survival of the horse ramp, colonnaded balcony and evidence of the removed horse stalls.

Historical interest:

* for the light it sheds on the history and importance of horses and horse-drawn transport in late-C19 cities;

* as the only surviving example of a horse repository in London, which was pre-eminent in the horse trade until the start of the Second World War.

Group Value:

* with the Grade II-listed Spitalfield Market on the opposite side of Commercial Street.


Stapleton’s Horse and Carriage Repository was established, according to a plaque above the entrance on Commercial Street, in 1842 by Robert Stapleton. They appear to have dealt mainly in draught horses, often acquired from railway or horse tram companies. The original premises seem to have been at 62 Bishopsgate Street Without but the business moved to 106 Commercial Street in 1890. This section of Commercial Street was developed between 1860 and 1870 and number 106 had previously been occupied as a depot by Tingle, Jacobs and Co who were carmen (hauliers or carters) with headquarters at 4 Billiter Street in the City. 106 Commercial Street is shown on the 1875 Ordnance Survey map as a courtyard with long ranges on three sides, probably stabling, and possibly a roof over part of the courtyard but the exact details are unclear. The site as occupied by Stapleton's in 1890 is shown in detail on the Goad insurance plan of that year with a frontage building onto Commercial Street, a new or rebuilt office block to the north of the covered courtyard and new or rebuilt stable/carriage ranges on two sides (south and east). By 1915 however, street directories indicate that Stapleton's had vacated the site, possibly as a result of the effects of the First World War on the horse trade, along with the general increase of motor vehicles. By 1953 the Goad plan shows the site as a garage, by 1959 it was a government surplus warehouse and in 1965 it was the Coathanger kitchen furniture warehouse. At some point in the mid-C20 the originally cast-iron framed glazed courtyard roof was replaced with a steel-framed corrugated metal covered roof. In the late-C20 the arch to the entrance building was remodelled. In the early-C21 the office building was extensively altered with the removal and replacement of original floors. Lesser alterations were made to the carriage/stable ranges.

Horse repositories were urban horse dealerships and auction houses, a relatively common feature of the landscape of English cities and larger towns, especially in the century or so before the First World War, at the height of industrial England's reliance on the horse. By the late-C19, for example, London had a population of around 300,000 draught horses. Originating in the mid-C18, horse repositories generally had a covered courtyard with multi-storey stabling and were often of some architectural pretension. The establishment of horse repositories marked a significant development in the horse trade with a move away from open-air, often seasonal, markets with many dealers to a virtual monopoly of advertised horse sales, particularly of riding and carriage horses, by a much smaller number of repository owners.

London had a number of well-known repositories, supplementing and then replacing horse sales at Smithfield Market, of which Stapleton's is the only survivor. Probably the most famous was Tattersall’s, specialising in riding, racing and carriage horses, which operated in London between 1766 and 1939, originally at Hyde Park Corner before relocating to Knightsbridge Green in 1865. Other examples included Aldridge’s (originally Bever's) at St Martin’s Lane (1740- 1926); Dixon’s, later Rymill’s, City Repository at the Barbican (1773-1926); Ward’s on the Edgware Road and the Horse Repository at the Elephant and Castle. Two impressively fashionable but short-lived early C19 examples, George Young’s Horse Bazaar at Portman Square, which opened in 1822 and closed around 1843, and the Royal London Bazaar on Gray’s Inn Road at Kings Cross, of 1829, illustrate the connection of large inner-city horse repositories to the fashion for shopping arcades and covered markets or ‘bazaars’.


Former horse repository. Built or modified around 1890 as Stapleton’s Horse and Carriage Repository around an existing courtyard with stabling and frontage building possibly from around 1860-1870. Alterations to the frontage building and courtyard roof in the C20. In 2013 the office building and other parts of the site were renovated and altered, and its interior is excluded from the listing.

MATERIALS: yellow stock brick with a red brick façade with rubbed brick decoration to the entrance building. The stable blocks have concrete floors with cast-iron columns. The roofs are slate-covered. The courtyard is floored with concrete and has a steel-truss roof with modern corrugated steel cladding.

PLAN: the site consists of a three-storey entrance building onto Commercial Street (106a Commercial Street) with an arch giving onto a passage leading into a central roofed-over courtyard to the rear of the adjoining properties to the south. On the south and east sides of the courtyard is an L-plan, two-storey plus semi-basement range with a part pitched, part hipped, roof. This originally housed carriages on the top floor and stables on the first floor and in the sub-basement. At the angle of the range is a horse ramp and the shaft for a carriage lift (converted to toilets on the ground floor). On the north side of the courtyard is a two-storey plus basement, flat-roofed, office range with a fat L-shaped footprint (originally with accommodation above) with an entrance to its east with modern metal corrugated roller doors giving on to a disused passage running north onto Hanbury Street.

EXTERIOR: the west elevation of the entrance building is of three bays faced in red brick laid in Flemish bond. The ground floor, which appears from photographic evidence to have been re-fronted, has a large segmental arched carriage entrance occupying the two northern bays. This originally had polychromatic voussoirs but retains its original protective stone bollards at the base of the arch. The southern bay has an entrance to the flat above. This has a narrow round-arched opening with a fanlight without glazing bars and modern door. Above the ground floor the bays are defined by pilasters with plain brick capitals placed at the top of the window level to each floor. The regular fenestration is of replacement one-over-one horned timber sashes in square-headed openings with rubbed brick moulded surrounds and lintels. On the first-floor the central bay is occupied by a decorative rubbed brick plaque with swags and mask bearing the legend ’STAPLETON’S/ ESTABLISHED/ 1842’. Below this is a brick fascia panel with a rubbed brick egg and dart surround. The second floor has rubbed brick panels below each window over a dentilated cornice. At the top of the building above a brick cornice is a shaped gable with stone copings, ball finials and triangular pediment. The centre of the gable bears an elaborate rubbed brick plaque bearing the Royal Arms. The building has a pitched slate roof.

Within the courtyard, the north and west elevations of the stable/carriage ranges are of yellow stock brick, laid in English bond, with an open gallery on the top floor with a modern tubular-steel balustrade set between the original cast-iron columns. Fenestration to the first and sub-basement levels consists of large square-headed openings divided into two by smaller cast-iron columns and with multi-pane, metal-framed windows with rounded sills of blue engineering brick and lintels of steel I-beams. One set of windows toward the middle of each range has been removed creating a large double-height opening. In the eastern range at the angle of the two-ranges, is a dog-leg concrete horse ramp giving access to the basement and first floor, overlaid by a late-C20 timber stair, and a brick balustrade with rounded engineering brick capping. The two-bay wide opening for the ramp, which projects beyond the face of the range, has a lintel and central support of iron or steel I-beams. At the western end of the southern range a set of modern concrete stairs with a modern tubular-steel balustrade go down to the sub-basement level and at the northern end of the eastern range is a modern steel fire-escape.

The office range on the north side of the courtyard is also of yellow stock brick laid in English bond. The south elevation has one original four-over-four horned timber sash window in a segmental-arched opening with stone sill on the first floor. Other openings have been introduced or enlarged. On the east elevation there are two sash windows to the same design as the southern one and two large tripartite one-over-one horned timber sash windows on the ground floor with stone sills and I-beam lintels. An entrance at the northern end is reached via set of modern timber stairs.

INTERIORS: the flat in the entrance building has been modernised with few original features but retains its original timber stair.

The stable/ carriage range has a continuous top floor with an open gallery to the courtyard reached from the floor below by a straight timber stair at the angle of the two wings. The timber floor cuts through blocked square window openings with I-beam lintels in the north and east walls. The boarded roof has timber trusses with tie beams augmented with iron or steel tie-rod scissors trusses. The space is lit by skylights.The first-floor and basement of the two blocks are divided from each other by the well of the horse ramp, with only the landings connecting the blocks. These storeys originally contained the stables. The stalls have been removed but their outline can be seen in the engineering brick covering laid over the concrete floors and are further demarcated by projecting slots for the partitions in the cast-iron columns and metal window frames. The columns have bell-capitals. On the first-floor of the southern range the columns have been removed and modern RSJs have been inserted, probably in the mid-C20. In the eastern range, the front row of columns supporting the timber joists remain but the rear row have been replaced by baulks of timber, probably in 2013. In the sub-basement only one of the original two rows of columns remains, now supporting modern RSJs. In the sub-basement and first-floor the front walls have white glazed tiling with a blue top band at dado height. The shaft of the carriage lift has been enlarged and converted to WCs on the ground floor and is marked on the first floor by a brick pier.

The interior of the office block was remodelled in 2013 and has new floors, ceilings and staircase. It is excluded from the listing.

The courtyard has a modern concrete floor laid over or replacing the original surface, probably of stone setts such as survive in the continuation of the passage onto Hanbury Street. The hipped roof is supported on steel trusses with cross-braced central panels and connecting tie-rods. The roof over the western passage ends in a hip and the northern passage has a C21 flat roof. All roofs have skylights. The passage to Hanbury Street is closed by modern metal shuttering.

Pursuant to s1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that the interior of the office building is not of special architectural or historic interest, however any works which have the potential to affect the character of the listed building as a building of special architectural or historic interest may still require LBC and this is a matter for the LPA to determine.

This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 08/07/2020


Books and journals
Gordon, WJ (Author), The Horse World of London, (1893)
Sheppard, FHW, Survey of London: Volume 27: Spitalfields and Mile End New Town , (1957), 256-264
Velten, Hannah (Author), Beastly London: a History of Animals in the City, (2013), 62
106 Commercial Street, accessed 09 March 2020 from
Thomas Almeroth-Williams, Horses and Livestock in Hanovarian London (Ph.D thesis 2013), accessed 28 April 2020 from
Bidwells, Heritage Statement - 106 Commercial Street, London E1 6LZ


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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