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

Six Watch Houses were designated as the first Police Stations by the Lord Mayor in February 1817, although the divisions into which the police were organised did not become fixed until the late 1830s

City was divided into six districts or divisions, and a station house allocated for each one:

1st District            –              St Sepulchre’s Watch House

2nd District           –              St Bride’s Watch House

3rd District            –              Cordwainer Watch House

4th District            –              Tower Watch House

5th District            –              Bishopsgate Watch House

6th District            –              Cripplegate without Watch House.

On 7th August 1839, the then head of the City Police, Superintendent Whithair, appeared before the Watch and Police Committee asking for roomy premises be obtained for Police Station Houses in or near the following locations:

  • The east end of Fleet St
  • Giltspur St
  • Fore St, Cripplegate
  • Bishopsgate nr St Botoloph’s Church
  • The west end of Tower St, and
  • Watling St nr Queen St

On the 21st August, the Committee met again to consider the premises that had been offered for each location

They were as follows:

1st Division          Plumtree Ct, Holborn Bridge

                                Nevills Ct, Fetter Lane

                                No 1 Angel Ct, Skinner Street

The former Greyhound public house on the west side of Smithfield Market

2nd Division         William St, New Bridge St

                                20 Bride Lane

Salisbury St

Salisbury Square

3rd Division          25 & 34 Friday St

                                2 Budge Row

                                27 Budge Row

                                46 Watling St

4th Division          Water Lane

                                All Hallows Barking workhouse

5th Division          St Botolphs Aldgate workhouse Cock & Hoop Yard, Houndsditch

                                Coppersmiths in Houndsditch

                                80 Houndsditch

8 Broad St Buildings

6th Division          Part of Cripplegate workhouse

                                6 Beech Street

                                9 Philip Lane

                                House on corner of Fore St and Whitecross St

Green Yard         House in Basinghall St

The Committee short listed the ones in bold for further consideration. The house proposed as the Green Yard was to be looked at as offices and a residence for the Superintendent and as store rooms.

By 1841 the stations are recorded as being at the following locations:

No of Division Name Location
1 Cripplegate Fore Street
2 Smithfield Smithfield
3 Fleet Street Black Horse Ct
4 Watling Street 62 Watling Street
5 Tower Street 91 Great Tower St
6 Bishopsgate Bishopsgate Churchyard

NB the divisional numbers have now changed from those of 1839.

Fleet Street and Bishopsgate were located in the old watch houses but the premises occupied by the other stations are not so clear.

The Commissioner’s office was at 83 Basinghall Street

By 1843 there had been a few adjustments:

  • Cripplegate had moved to10 Moor Lane and
  • Watling Street (now called Garlick Hill) had moved to 25 Garlick Hill
  • Smithfield is now recorded as 13 Smithfield occupying the old Greyhound public house.
  • Fleet Street is 2 Black Horse Court

In 1851 they are recorded as:

No of Division Name Location
1 Cripplegate 10 Moor Lane
2 Smithfield 13 West Smithfield
3 Fleet Street 119 Fleet Street
4 Bow Lane 1 Great Saint Thomas Apostle
5 Fenchurch Street 57 Fenchurch Street
6 Bishopsgate 201 Bishopsgate Churchyard

A station to replace the Bishopsgate watch house were drawn up in 1863

Plans for a station in Bridewell Place were produced in 1872.

There are plans on record for a new police station in Snow Hill in 1873.

By 1890 the stations were in the following locations

No of Division Name Location
1 Cripplegate 10 Moor Lane
2 Snow Hill Snow Hill
3 Bridewell Place Bridewell Place
4 Bow Lane Cloak Lane
5 Tower Street Tower Street
6 Bishopsgate Bishopsgate

Plans for a new station in the Minories were drawn up in 1896.

In 1914 the Force was reorganised and Bridewell and Minories were shut as police stations. For several years after Minories was used for storage including being home for the Clothing Stores.

The Divisions now were

“A”         Moor Lane
“B”         Snow Hill
“C”         Bishopsgate
“D”         Cloak Lane

The Second World War brought further reorganisation when Moor Lane and much of its Division were destroyed by bombing. Although initially the police station was relocated to King Street ultimately the officers were moved to Cloak Lane and the division merged with Cloak Lane.

In 1967 Cloak Lane relocated to the new station in Wood Street

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