My Life with The

WHITBREAD SHIRES

by John Sparks

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  World War Two

Though Whitbread records go back to the foundation of the brewery in 1742, and there have been horses at Chiswell Street in the City of London continuously since those days the first reference to the stables is 1802 when 60 horses were employed. The number rose to 111 in 1880 and to about 400 in 1904. The heavy horses have always been shires, though a small number of light vanners were used for delivery of bottled beer.

During the first World war about half the brewery horses were commandeered by the Army, but with the introduction of mechanical vehicles for delivery of cask beer, the number steadily decreased, so that in 1939 there were only 53 shires in the stables.

The bombing of London during the War made it necessary to have shifts of stablemen with the horses day and night and the soundness of the policy was shown when the great incendiary raid on London took place on the night of December 29th 1940. The stables were set alight by incendiaries, but with the help of volunteers from the brewery shelters, all the horses were led out to safety in the streets and were tethered while a fire-fighting party extinguished the fire. A few horses broke loose, but all returned to the stable in the morning, together with a number of strangers which were eventually restored to their respective owners. The only casualty due to the War was an old horse who dropped dead from heart failure on the explosion of a land-mine nearby.

  City of London Police Horses

During the heavy bombing raids over London in 1941 the City of London Police horses were bombed out of their quarters in the historic City Greenyard next to St Giles Church Cripplegate..

From that date six of their horses were stabled under the care of Sergeant White and eleven men on the first floor of the Whitbread stables in Garrett Street . From there they were taken out for their training , which consisted largely in acclimatising them to traffic and other hazards they had to contend with on state and other occasions.

They remained at Garrett Street stable until their stables were rebuilt at the Wood Street Police Station in June 1966, although still retuning to the Whitbread farrier's shop for shoeing.

 

The seven stalls and lobby were occupied by the City of London Police at the east end of the first floor stable
from 1941 until their stables were rebuilt at Wood Street Police station 1966

Picture taken 1965.

COLP1
COLP2

Picture taken 1985.

LEADING TO RAMP TO
GROUND FLOOR

AT THE END TURN RIGHT ONTO RAMP TO THE SECOND FLOOR