While presenting yourself at a police station may not immediately spring to mind as the precursor to an entertaining day out in London, think again. For the Wood Street police station is home to the little gem that is the City of London Police Museum. As its name would suggest, this museum focuses on the City police, whose remit covers London’s historic Square Mile, as opposed to their counterparts in the Metropolitan Police. And unlike the Met’s private Crime Museum (a.k.a. the Black Museum), anyone can drop by for a visit.
Although the City of London Police Museum is contained in just the one room – I’m told it may eventually be extended, so watch this space – it is richly furnished with memorabilia and historical items, and is well worth a look. My personal favourites include the top hat originally incorporated in the uniform that was so sturdy officers could stand on it to look over high walls, and their collection of seized weapons, which includes a very low-tech sock-in-a-rock.
Events such as the Houndsditch Murders and the Moorgate Tube disaster of 1975 are also covered, and there is a small section on Jack the Ripper as the Mitre Square killing fell within the City’s boundaries. Many of the museum’s volunteers are former officers themselves and as such have a wealth of information to impart (and can even point out former colleagues in more recent photos). This is what really brings the museum – and the stories it contains – alive. For example, did you know that the City Police significantly pre-date the Metropolitan force, and their Roman-style helmet reflects their early origins?
The Museum is currently open Wednesdays from 10am-4pm and Fridays from 2-6pm (and Tuesdays 10am-4pm from 1st February 2012). Just present yourself at the front desk at 37 Wood Street during these hours. Entry is free.