Greenwich

The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery

The King's Troop in Woolwich

The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery took up residence in a new purpose-built state-of-the-art equestrian training facility and accommodation centre in Woolwich Garrison in February 2012. The troop formerly lived in St John's Wood, north-west London.

The King's Troop is a British Army mounted ceremonial unit that fires royal salutes on royal anniversaries and state occasions, including birthdays and funerals. The unit's soldiers drive a team of six horses that pull each of the six First World War-era field guns. They also mount the Queen's life guard at Horse Guards each summer. The King's Troop also have a vital operational role, with soldiers recently deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The unit comprises of 109 horses, seven officers and 164 soldiers.

A return to the spiritual home

The arrival of the King's Troop back in Woolwich built on links between the military and Royal Greenwich dating back three centuries. As a result of the move to Woolwich, the troop's First World War-era field guns have been returned to the home of the Royal Arsenal, where they were built, and the Royal Artillery, for whom they were made.

The British Army's largest forge

The King's Troop's new facility at Napier Lines boasts extensive outdoor training areas, an indoor riding school, a veterinary clinic, stabling for 140 horses, a saddlers' workshop, a tailors' workshop and the largest, most modern blacksmith's forge in the British Army.

Napier Lines has been designed to be eco-friendly, and a biomass boiler generates renewable energy to provide heating and hot water from the 40 tonnes of waste produced by the horses and stables each week. 

King's Troop facts

  • The King's Troop forge is the current reigning champion of the London Cup and Inter-regimental Farriery Competition.
  • The forge shoes over 70 horses a week.
  • The Napier Lines facility aims to be carbon-neutral.
  • Every item of leather work worn by the horses is hand-stitched.
  • It takes four to five years to become a fully trained military saddler.
  • Each of the troop's six 13-pounder field guns was used in the First World War, and some were also brought out of store for use as emergency anti-tank guns for home defence in the Second World War.
  • Prior to a salute or parade, it takes 15 cans of wood polish, seven tubes of metal polish, a can of linseed oil, four cans of penetrating oil and 13 man-hours to turn out a gun and limber.
  • The majority of parts required for the guns can no longer be sourced and so must be hand-machined by highly skilled soldiers from the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers (REME).