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The Square Mile, its crime and policing history The Square Mile, its crime and policing history

The first Bishopsgate Police Station to be purpose built for the City of London Police was designed by the Corporation’s City Surveyor of the time, Sir Horace Jones, his most notable other works being Tower Bridge, and Smithfield and Leadenhall Markets.  The station opened in 1866, on the same plot of land today’s Bishopsgate Police Station still occupies.  It was to be to Sir Horace Jones’s police station that in September 1888 officers brought a female later known to be one Catherine Eddowes, arrested for being drunk up towards Houndsditch way.  It was from its cells that she was to be released in the early hours 0f the next morning, to make her way back towards the East End.  She never made it.  In Mitre Square, she encountered probably the most famous serial killer of all time, Jack the Ripper, and suddenly and brutally became his fifth victim.

City Police officers continued to work out of this Victorian Police Station until the 1930s.  In the middle of that decade they were relocated to the Minories Police building while Horace Jones’s building was demolished and the current Bishopsgate Police Station was built.  Constructed shortly before the Second World War, with a growing knowledge conflict was coming, this Bishopsgate was was structurally reinforced – as anyone who has ever tried to nail anything into its walls will tell you.  Occupying the same plot as its Victorian predecessor, the station frontage is only around 70 feet wide, but the building’s depth takes its rear wall back as far as New Street.

The “bomb resistant” Bishopsgate Police Station, 1939

Its “bomb resistance” came in useful when in September 1940 the building took a direct hit during a German bombing raid.  There was some damage, but the main structure remained standing.  Sadly, there was one casualty, a nurse, employed in the City of London Police Hospital by the name of Evelyn Rolfe who was injured in the blast and died the next day at St Bartholomew’s Hospital.  There are many stories of haunted goings-on on the upper floors of Bishopsgate – which used to be occupied by the City Police Hospital – of doors opening and closing in the evenings with no-one there, and, when many of the rooms provided living accommodation for police officers, of some being woken in the night to find invisible hands briskly tucking them into bed.  Some say it is the ghost of Evelyn, still caring for others and still doing her rounds of the old hospital wards.

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