My Life with The

WHITBREAD SHIRES

by John Sparks

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  The London Harness Horse Parade

As a stable boy in the early 60s I can remember Jack Strickland, the then Lord Mayor's coachman, driving a six horse team from the Garrett Street stable through the streets of north London. I was standing on the back of the dray as it wound its way around the back streets, with the four walking grooms on its way to Regents park for the London harness parade, stopping for a rest on the way as it would take just over the hour. Once there you would meet up with all of the other Whitbread drivers to get ready for the start. The parade was twice round the inner circle, the first was to have your turnout judged and the second to collect a horse brass. Once it was over it was time to make the journey back down the Euston Road, a pull-in at one of the Whitbread pubs for a rest and something to eat and drink, then onto Grays Inn Road and back to the stable.

The London Harness horse parade on Easter Monday was one of the biggest shows of the year for us. The week before the show harness and drays had to be cleaned also horses excerised. On the Sunday before the show each driver would wash his horses from ears to hoofs and make sure that his harness and dray was ready for the early start on Easter Monday.

Monday morning was a 6am start. While the drivers plaited mains and tails the grooms would muck out and groom the horses. After a quick breakfast and change into our show uniforms, harness up we were on the road to Regents park

Easter Monday 1991 saw the last time the Whitbread shires would walk from the Garrett Street stable to Regents park as they had done for many years. two singles,four pairs and a four horse team.

In September 1991 we transferred to the Whitbread hop farm at Paddock Wood.

Easter Monday (1992 ) just one four horse team made the journey in the Whitbead horsebox from the farm to Regents park.

Below
Regents Park 1986

L - R : Drivers John Lawless ( Four Horse Team ) - Danny Hunt ( Fremlins Dray )
- John Cook ( Best Bitter Dray ) - Steve Tubbs ( Whitbread Dray )

L- -R : Grooms Peter Bundock, Bill Papworth ( Four Horse Team ) - John Sparks ( Fremlins Dray )
 - Richard Carr ( Best Bitter Dray ) - Kevin Robertson ( Whitbread Dray )

Regents Park

Steve Tubbs..

John Cook

Danny Hunt

POMP

John Lawless

John Sparks

Richard Carr

Kevin Robertson