Wimbledon 19th-century stables where stars learned to ride faces closure

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A 19th-century stables where stars including Dominic West and Michael Fassbender learned to ride is facing  closure.

Ridgway Stables in Wimbledon dates back to the 1860s and has taught riding for nearly eight decades. It will shut its doors on September 28 after the lease with its landlord comes to an end.

The stables, near Wimbledon Common, is popular with children and home to 15 horses and ponies, all of which will have to be rehomed. It is feared the landowners could look to redevelop the site for housing. 

More than 5,000 people have signed a petition to save the stables, where West, Fassbender and Andrea Riseborough learned to ride for their roles in 2008 Civil War series The Devil’s Whore.

The business is run by Julia Hardy (Matt Writtle)

Manager Julia Hardy, who has run the stables for the past 37 years, said: “It’s very sad, not just for me but for the community because the stables have been running as a riding school for over 70 years.

“And just in the last 30 or so years we’ve taught thousands of children to ride. All these children will be deprived of the interaction with animals which is not something that urban children can always get involved with.”

She said she could not  afford to take her fight to court. “Most of the horses have been here a long time because if you get a horse that can do this job, they’re with you for life,” she added.

Rider Helen Shelley, from Stockwell, has set up an online petition to save the stables.

The business Dominic West and Michael Fassbender to ride for TV series The Devil’s Whore

The creative director, 50, who has visited the stables each weekend for the past five years, said: “Not only is it a thriving business that gives jobs and a livelihood to its team, it also contributes to the economy of the area.

“We may have to face the fact that we can’t save Julia’s business so plan B is to get enough signatures to go to Merton council with to try and retain the use of the site.”

Council leader Stephen Alambritis said: “They do a great job for our children and for those that want to ride ponies and horses. It would be a very, very sad loss. We call on the landlord to think again and to offer a renewal of the tenancy.” 

The Standard approached landlord Lesley Brothers (London) for comment.

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