brixton & wapping police stn

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home outings london

brixton & wapping police station

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Baby baracuda

Salmon heads

Sheen on the scales


Egg plants

A handsome vegetable, no idea what it is perhaps a gourd

Brixton Market

Red snappers

Octopi or octopuses & catfish

Blue arches in Atlantic Road


3rd Avenue

2nd Avenue

2nd Avenue in Brixton Village

Bella West

Quotation by William Blake

Taken from inside the Federation Coffee Shop where we enjoyed a distinctive brew

Reflections in a bottle

Row of tables

Cardboard Pillar


Charley the resident cat of Brixton Market

Fishy Gates

Brixton Market

Ropey Roman Arches


 Book dealer



Lambeth Town Hall so fine

The Dog Star Sirius?

African mother and child


Modern housing

The derelict house on the left was the first in the row above

Venerable tree

Walking through the avenue

Covered Stairway

Denmark Hill (Overground)

Wide range of styles and sizes.   We travelled to Wapping

The last occasion in England when a stake was hammered through a sinner’s heart at an official burial, took place at the junction of Cable Street and Cannon Street Road: John Williams was found hanged in his cell, after being arrested as a suspect in the Ratcliff Highway murders. Local people went along with the claim that he had committed suicide, from guilt of the crimes. At the time, 1812, suicide was considered to be sinful, and justified him being buried upside down with a stake through his heart. His skull was found when new gas mains were being laid in the 1960s, and was on display for many years in The Crown and Dolphin pub opposite.


In 1836 an act of Parliament authorised a 3.25 mile line Minories to Blackwall called “The Commercial Railway”. Robert Stevenson decided on cable drawn cars by a stationary steam engine.  Opened in 1840 and and converted  to standard gauge locomotive drawn trains in 1849.

The railway still runs alongside Cable Street so it seems reasonable that Cable Railway Street became Cable Street. As Ratcliff Highway ( infamous for the murders) became The Highway.

We had lunch at the Captain Kidd

The noose

From the pub garden

Police boats on arrival


Hidden away in a corner of Wapping High Street, on the riverbank, is a police station.  Few people, standing outside and looking at this unassuming building, would realise that this is here the “Met” began, even before the setting up of the Bow Street Runners or Sir Robert Peel‘s “peelers”.   It is now the Marine Police Unit.  

In 1798 the Thames was full of ships unloading their wares from all over the world.   Unfortunately this attracted criminals whose pilfering of ships’ cargoes was costing the owners an annual loss of £500,000 and a subsequent loss of import dues.  Pilfering was regarded by the Master Lumpers, who discharged or loaded the cargoes, as a perk of the job - not stealing. In 1797 John Harriott, an Essex JP, farmer and inventor came up with a plan to protect the river by policing, but it took Patrick Colquhoun, the principal magistrate of Queens Square Police Office, Westminster to persuade the West India Merchants and West India Planters Committee to finance the first preventative policing of the central shipping of the Thames for a year.

When the first patrol set out from their base at Wapping High Street they patrolled in rowing galleys. Each was manned by a “Surveyor” (Inspector) and up to three Constables.  In addition, the companies hired several hundred part-time Ship Guards to oversee loading and unloading of cargoes.   To establish and equip this new police force cost £4,200.   Within six months they had saved more than 25 times that amount of cargo and were so effective that the criminal fraternity organised a riot.   A large crowd descended on the Police Station with the aim of burning it down with the two magistrates Harriott and Colquhoun inside.   The riot was dispersed before this could be achieved but resulted in the death of Gabriel Franks who was shot. His death was the first recorded of a policeman.

In 1800 Parliament passed the Marine Police Bill which moved the small river police from the private to the public domain.   Also in 1800 Patrick Colquhoun wrote The Commerce and Policing of the River, a book which gave rise to other police forces around the world.   By the time the Metropolitan Police was formed in 1829, the Marine Police had three stations – the HQ at Wapping, the others on board two old navy vessels at Waterloo and Blackwall.   Six hour patrols began at two hourly intervals day and night.   Rowing galleys were used between Battersea and Woolwich, with the river’s lower reaches patrolled by a sailing cutter. In 1839 the Marine Police became the Thames Division of the Metropolitan Police and for the next 40 years policed the river by road and sail. In the 1880s it acquired its first power launch and by 1910 nearly all patrol boats were power-driven.   Two new stations at Erith and Barnes were opened. The floating pontoon at Waterloo Pier, still there today, replaced the navy hulk. Today 54 miles of London’s river, from Staines to the Thames Barrier, are patrolled from bases at Wapping, Waterloo Pier and Shepperton, with strategic moorings at Richmond and Teddington.

The Museum is located in what was once the carpenter’s workshop.  Exhibits include uniforms and documents, which trace the history of the Thames River Police.   There is also a fine collection of the every day “Hardware” of policing from handcuffs to cutlasses.

Robert Jeffries, the present curator and a retired river policeman, gave us a fascinating talk, starting with the foundation of the river police, through the Ratcliffe murders, the Princess Alice disaster to the present day and the Marchioness disaster, and much more besides. We could then wander round the Museum and look at the exhibits with no interactive devices to be seen! Today the officers of Thames Division are still protecting and serving all who live, work or play on London’s river.   If you want to know more visit www.thamespolicemuseum.org.uk

Thames Barge

Ethnic woman


Patrick Colquhoun above John Harriot below

Police boat

Lower tide



Warehouses by the museum

We were a bit late catching the train, but had an easy journey back home.