In the latter part of the 18th century a plot of ground in Whitecross Street near Cripplegate became the site of the City’s Greenyard. Here, anything found wandering or abandoned in the City streets was brought, from horses and sheep to carriages and carts. After fourteen days any animals or goods not claimed would be sold. Look upon it as a sort of olde council/police pound.
The Greenyard had a slightly more upmarket side too: it was also home to the Lord Mayor’s coach and, not just his horses, but also the Mounted Branch of the City of London Police.
December 1940 though, saw the Greenyard seriously damaged by bombing and fire – the City’s police horses were now stableless. However, a new home was found, not that far away in Garrett Street – here stood the stables of the Whitbread Brewery housing around 50 of the company’s shire horses. The police horses moved in too, just as a temporary measure of course: they ended up staying for the next 25 years. They would head out to patrol the City from Whitbread’s stables. In its yard they did some of their training with various sounds broadcast from a loudspeaker to accustom them to noise.
In June 1966, a quarter of a century after they had arrived, the City Police eventually moved out. Stables had been incorporated within the then, newly built Wood Street Police Station. For the last time the horses of the City Police left the yard passing in single file between a Guard of Honour formed by their old stable mates, the shires of the Whitbread Company.
Links were not completely severed though: the Whitbread farrier continued to shoe the police horses, but then in September 1991, it was the shires’ turn to leave. Four pairs of shire horses drawing the traditional drays left the Whitbread stables for the last time and followed a ceremonial circuit that took them to the Brewery at Chiswell Street, then on to Bunhill Row before returning to the stables. They were escorted on their final journey around the City by their old friends from the City of London Police Mounted Branch.
And as for the police horses? Well they are still in the Square Mile, stabled at and patrolling from Wood Street Police Station.
Their stables are now the last working stables in the City of London.