Garrett Street stable was built and completed in 1897 and not uncommon in horse powered London at the turn of the century. It stabled 100 shires horses. By adopting constuction techniques from industrial buildings, such as the use of brick arched floors supported by iron columns, it was possible to have stabling on two or three floors. The horses moved between the floors by useing ramped walkways. They were housed on three floors. Ground floor held 12 shires in the stable, outside in the yard there were another 6 loose boxes for isolating horses .
From under the arch a ramp ( Ride ) from the ground floor led up to the first floor where there were 36 more standing stalls. From the east end of the first floor another ramp ( Ride ) led to the top stable which held a further 50 stalls and a large harness room.
Working harness was hung on harness hooks on posts at the back of each horse.
1955 saw the Whitbread shires pulling the Lord Mayor's Coach for the first time, they did this for a further 42 years.
When I joined in 1961 as a stable boy the stable had changed. There were only 36 horses - greys, bay and blacks, 12 on the ground floor and 24 on the first with names has Time and Tide, Crown and Anchor, Thunder and Lightning, Saint and Sinner.
There were sixteen horse drivers, six stable keepers, farrier, horse manager, deputy manager and me, the first stable boy for 10 years.
All these horse drivers were experenced men with horses, some of them Charlie Ruocco, Sam Hicky, Fred Rush, Albert Cormack, Charlie Gibbons, Eric Clark, Ernie Marks, Ted Strickland. Alfie Pannick, had been with the railways driving their horses others had been with large haulage companys until they got rid of their horses, then there were men like Jack Strickland. Tommy Taylor, Eernie Hodges, Jim Saunders, who had worked for Whitbread from leaving school. Jack Brend was the stable manager, Harry Ranson was deputy foreman all these men had a weallth of experence.
In the stables there were six stablemen Fred Beasley, Harold Turkentine, Fred Talbot, Joe Thornhill, John Usher and Don Berkley these men had worked with horses all their lives and me has a stablesboy learnt and gained a lot of experience from them
For three years I worked along side these men, the stories they had to tell and experiences guided me through and gave me the knowledge that I have today.
The top stable was now being used as a firing range for the social club with the windows bricked up. (see welcome page )
Three out of the six of the out side loose boxes had been turned into, one fodder store, one for show harness and one for a show harness cleaning room.
From Monday to Friday 12 pairs went out to work delivering barrelled beer in and around the city of London up to a ten mile radius, each dray could carry up to five tonnes of beer. These drays were fitted with lights which ran off a twelve volt battery so that they could still deliver in the winter months when it got dark early.
Stable keepers worked an eight hour shirt six days a week working Monday to Saturday three men to a shift, one in the ground floor stable and two covering the first floor stable, each stable keeper responsible for twelve horses. Morning shift 5am to 1pm, afternoon shift 12pm to 8pm and the night watchman came in from 8pm to 5am for five nights Monday to Friday.
Saturday and Sunday nghts and Sunday days was overtime for anyone who would like to do them,
At weekends there were carnivals, and county shows to do with one or more pairs somewhere in the country. From May to September two pairs were sent to the Whitbread hop farm at Beltering, Paddock Wood each month for their a holiday.