Nostalgia: ‘I led Mounties’ horses from train to barracks’

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GREAT-grandfather Tom Bisset, 83, of Craigentinny, spent 20 years of his career with Lothian and Borders Police in the force’s mounted section.

Mr Bisset, who retired in 1980 and has four great-grandchildren, has many fond memories of the unit which is now facing closure after being in existence for 130 years.

As a sergeant, he had a range of roles as he was in charge of the horses and the patrols throughout the city.

A high-profile sight at football matches or to help police large crowds, the mounted section also has a more ceremonial role when the Queen visits and can even be called on to help out Tattoo performers.

A memory which stands out for Tom is probably one of the quieter jobs of his career.

“It was a peaceful Sunday morning, I think it was 1969 or 70, we had the task of escorting the Royal Canadian Mounties from Waverley to their Redford Barracks.

“The horses came by train to Waverley – most of their supplies in horse carriages, though.

“I was sergeant by this time so I was leading the horses along at the front. I remember thinking the horses appeared to be slightly smaller and they were all black.

“We took them from the station, along Princes Street, up Lothian Road and through Colinton. It took about an hour. I remember they didn’t drink much, they had saved all they had for after their performance.

“We took them up past the Princess Margaret Rose Hospital. It was a sunny morning and we didn’t advertise the journey. It was about half six so it was quiet – just them and us, the police. And we didn’t have those stupid trams!”