• Behind the Blue Lamp


The first Commercial Street Police Station was a watch house situated in Spital Square at the junction with Lamb Street, and behind St. Mary’s Church. This was known as Spitalfields Watch House because it covered that area. It was probably an original watch house, handed over in 1829 but was still in use in 1862. It was usual to post two inspectors to each station, one being responsible for taking charges, complaints and calls for assistance in the station, whilst the other would supervise the constables and sergeants on their beats. This station was the divisional headquarters and housed the Superintendent.

A site at the corner of Fleur de Lis Street and Commercial Street was purchased from the Commissioners of Works in 1864, and a large new police station was planned. Built by Messrs Lathey Brothers to the design of Frederick H. Caiger, Surveyor for the Metropolitan Police, it then had a three-storey frontage, to Commercial Street only. It was ready for business by March 1876.

In 1881 there were 48 constables resident in the section house, part of the station which at the time of recording also held five prisoners. Police Orders in 1884 show the address of the police station as ‪160 Commercial Street, Shoreditch. This was a large building which occupied an odd-shaped corner plot. Officers who worked at the station gave it the fond nickname ‘Comical Street’.

In 1907 the accommodation at the premises was altered to give two sets of married quarters and room for 39 unmarried men, with an extra storey being added.

By November 1911 the building had been enlarged to accommodate up to 100 single men, still paying rent at 1s per week. These living quarters at the station were known as Commercial Street Section House, but in 1912 it was renamed Aldgate Section House.

In 1933 the station was transferred to G Division, however in ‪1964 Commercial Street rejoined H Division and became a sub-division of Leman Street.

In 1967 staff had to move from Leman Street (HD) as the old station was being pulled down. The operational staff moved temporarily to Commercial Street. Bethnal Green and Commercial Street Divisions amalgamated.

In 1968 the Special Constabulary on H Division totalled 60 officers of all ranks. Woman Special Sergeant Miss M.R. Mounce was stationed at Commercial Street, in charge of the detachment of constables.

The station remained operational until March 1970, when a new police station was opened at ‪74 Leman Street. Today it is flats called Burhan Uddin House.

Commercial Street Police Station is particularly known for its indelible links with the Jack the Ripper investigation.

Information taken from the new book BEHIND THE BLUE LAMP. Click here to learn more.

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© 2020 ADAM WOOD.
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