The Association undertakes visits that are educational and recreational to prominent sites both in London or within the scope of a day trip from London. We aim to organise these two to three times a year and welcome suggestions for visits from members.

Letter from Fiona McWilliams

Examples of recent visits include:

17 September 2017

Tour of Hyde Park Barracks

Hyde Park Barracks - the horses, the ceremonial - the highly polished boots, the flashing helmets and cuirasses, the jingling of spurs – all are a quintessential part of life in Knightsbridge, and have been since the late 18th century. A visit to the Barracks is always oversubscribed and our visit in September was no exception.

Members and guests foregathered to watch the daily inspection of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment before they rode out to mount guard in Whitehall. We were all very impressed to learn that six hours of preparation goes into the immaculate turnout of each horse and rider. After a welcoming coffee, kindly hosted by the Commanding Officer Lt. Colonel James Gaselee in the Officer’s Mess, and an introductory talk on the ceremonial and operational roles of the two regiments, the Life Guards and the Blues and Royals, our well-informed guides showed us round the Barracks. We visited the forge, the saddlers’ and the store where the ceremonial uniforms, swords and immense silver kettle drums are kept, weighing an impressive 35 kilos each. No wonder the drum horses have to be so sturdy! The drum horses themselves were magnificent, and we met three of them relaxing in their looseboxes, as well as the black and grey cavalry horses, both veterans and the newly-arrived remounts who are just starting their training. It was a most enjoyable visit which gave us all a fascinating insight into the history and hard work behind the scenes at Hyde Park Barracks.

15 March 2018

Tour of South East London Combined Heat & Power (SELCHP)

At the invitation of Councillor Ian Wingfield (Southwark Borough Council), a group of fourteen stalwarts from the KA assembled on a cold March morning at 199 Knightsbridge to visit South East London Heat and Power, the waste-to-energy plant operated by Veolia in Southwark.

The purpose of our visit was to see how waste from Westminster and neighbouring boroughs is burnt to generate electricity and heat in the heart of London.

Rising waste production, diminishing landfill capacity and increasing regulation in the late 1980s led to the adoption of the “proximity principle” that sought to find ways of taking responsibility for dealing with waste locally, thereby minimising unnecessary transportation out of London.

Built under a design and construct contract with Martin Engineering Systems Limited, the plant was commissioned in 1993 and opened officially by HRH The Prince of Wales in 1994, operating initially as an electricity-only generating plant.

It was not until 2014 that a five-kilometre hot water network was completed to link the plant’s surplus heat to 3000 homes in Southwark’s social housing estates. Use of heat has doubled the plant’s operating efficiency to around 45%. The biodegradable element of waste cuts carbon emissions by some 700,000 tonnes annually, qualifying the plant as a “recovery” rather than a “disposal” operation under EU guidelines.

The plant consumes some 440 thousand tonnes of waste per annum delivering 11K volts through its two connections into the 132K electricity transmission grid. During its life the plant has burnt some 10 million tonnes of waste

10 May 2018

Pimm’s & Bowls Evening

Members and their guests gathered on 10th May at the Hyde Park Tennis Club for a Pimm’s and Bowls tournament organised by Madeline Elsdon. We were divided into five teams and coaching was provided by a member of the British Commonwealth Bowls Team.

Even though most of us hadn’t played before it was still great fun as no one minded making fools of themselves. Fortunately the sun shone as we enjoyed large jugs of Pimm’s and plentiful refreshments. Everyone had a good time socialising with neighbours and their friends. We plan to hold more fun events in future.

11 September 2018

Visit to Chevening, the Foreign Secretary’s official country residence

In September, through the generosity of the Trustees of the Chevening Estate, the Knightsbridge Association was treated to a tour of Chevening given by Lt Colonel Alastair Mathewson OBE, Secretary to the Board, whose knowledge of the estate, its history and its residents is both encyclopaedic and entertaining.

Seat to seven successive generations of the Stanhope family and sited at animportant historical crossroads, the estate has a history stretching back almost 800 years, however the house itself is a rather more modern creation. Built to designs attributed to Inigo Jones (confirmed recently upon the discovery of one remaining portion of arch work found recently in a lower ground rear corridor), projections were later built to the east and west and pavilions built either side. Much restorative and remedial work has been done to the outside of the building over successive generations to achieve the house we have today.

15 March 2019

Visit to Veolia Old Kent Road Recycling

A small group of members were given a fascinating insight by Veolia into one of the most advanced recycling facilities in Europe. Much of the recycling from various boroughs including Westminster is processed there before being sent off to manufacturers to turn the recycled raw materials into new products.

They use a combination of mechanical and biological processes to segregate recyclable materials. Organic biodegradable components are broken down by a composting-like process to create fuel for energy recovery which is sent to their nearby Energy Recovery Facility.

Forthcoming Events

The 60th anniversary reception at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on Monday 10 January has drawn a very positive response but in view of rising Covid infection rates in London we have decided to postpone the event to a future date. I am sorry to be the bearer of such disappointing news. We have much to celebrate and look forward to being in contact again shortly with a new date. With best wishes for 2022

Mandarin Oriental

AGM & 60th Anniversary Reception

For members only, further details to follow.

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