Museum to open in cells of one of London’s first police stations

Sherna Noah, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent
·2-min read

A museum is opening in the cells of one of London’s first police stations.

Bow Street Police Museum will tell the story, inside station cells and working rooms, of London’s first crime-fighters.

Visitors can spend time in “the tank”, the large cell where those arrested for drunken behaviour were placed.

The police station and courthouse opened in Covent Garden in 1881 and the station closed in 1992.

Bow Street Police Museum
Bow Street Police Museum (Bow Street Police Museum/PA)

People arrested by police officers at Bow Street were held overnight and tried at the Magistrates’ Court next door.

It also dealt with extradition proceedings, terrorist offences and cases related to the Official Secrets Act, before shutting its doors in 2006.

The country’s newest independent museum will feature “stories of investigations, arrests and justice being served, from 18th century crime-fighting” onwards.

Opening next year, it will explore a string of famous Bow Street cases, including suffragette trials and the extradition case of former Chilean president Augusto Pinochet.

The museum opens next year
The museum opens next year (Cristian Barnett)

Those who found themselves before Bow Street’s judges included the Kray twins and Oscar Wilde.

The museum will tell the story of the Bow Street Runners, the country’s first organised force, and the Metropolitan Police officers who walked the streets of Covent Garden in their footsteps.

Curator Jen Kavanagh said: “We have worked especially closely with officers who served at Bow Street and, as a result, the museum is rich with recollections of life at a unique place in a special part of town.”

Bow Street Police Museum manager Vicki Pipe said the venue will be “an ever-changing and welcoming place for discussions and debates about the history of policing”.

The museum will sit within the new NoMad London Hotel.