King’s Troop: Thousands gather to mark end of an era

St John’s Wood High Street was lined with well-wishers of all ages

Caf�s stopped serving, shops closed their doors and estate agents replaced their house advertisements with pictures of the King’s Troop as St John’s Wood locals took their chance to catch a glimpse of the famous horses and their riders for one last time.

The spectacle of the Troop’s 109 horses has been a familiar sight to residents throughout north-west London for many decades.

Leaving the barracks for their daily exercise, the Troop’s 90-minute route saw them take different tours around the area from Maida Vale to Hampstead, Primrose Hill to Paddington and even as far as Notting Hill on occasion.

Westminster Lord Mayor Cllr Susie Burbridge said: “It’s one of the saddest days for all of us. We are going to miss them dreadfully.

“We are so used to hearing the clip-clop of the horses along the roads but suddenly they are all gone. I’m very sad. We need to make sure we don’t forget our history.”

Abbey Road Cllr Lindsey Hall added: “It’s an unbelievably sad day for St John’s Wood – the end of an era and a loss of part of our heritage.

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“Everyone here is so proud to be part of their daily life.

“But we wish them luck for the future. It’s a smiling farewell tinged with sadness.”

The American School in London, Barrow Hill, Robinsfield and St Christina’s were among a dozen primary schools which lined the High Street to say goodbye.

A booklet of specially re-written songs was produced including It’s a long way to Woolwich Arsenal (to the tune of It’s a long way to Tipperary) and So long, farewell from The Sound of Music.

Abbey Road resident Elizabeth Knowles said: “For 30 years they have come past my window and it was always a surprise because you never knew when they would be coming.

‘‘When people hear the noise of the hooves, everyone comes to have a look.

“It’s great that they are getting new barracks but very sad that they are leaving here.”

Former St John’s Wood church curate, the Rev Alan Walker, said he was sad the Troop wouldn’t be returning but described the occasion as “a wonderful send-off”.

Event organiser and Norfolk Road resident Clive Beecham said: “We will miss the Troop. I’ll miss being woken up by them every morning and hearing the clip-clop of their hooves around the neighbourhood.

“It’s always been a pleasure to be stuck behind them in a traffic jam.

“Unfortunately it’s another one of our great traditions gone.”