25. NEW SCOTLAND YARD
The headquarters of the Metropolitan Police had been situated in Great Scotland Yard since its formation in 1829, but by the 1880s it was clear that there was insufficient space for the growing Central Office.
A site was found on the Victoria Embankment, originally earmarked in 1875 for a new National Opera House, but that project ran into problems almost immediately when it was discovered that the earth was not solid enough to lay foundations. Digging to a depth of 40-50ft revealed nothing but running springs, with water seeping into the excavations as they proceeded below the depth of the Thames and then that of the District Line of the Underground. Eventually clay was reached, and 40ft of concrete was hastily poured into the shuttered excavations.
A plan to build a hotel on the site fell thought in 1888, and the site was purchased by the Receiver to house the new headquarters of the Metropolitan Police.
Work was well underway when on 2nd October 1888 female body parts were discovered by the builders working on the site. It was the decomposing trunk of a woman, minus the arms and legs; she had also been decapitated. Scotland Yard’s Divisional Surgeon Dr. Thomas Bond was able to confirm that an arm and shoulder found on 11th September were from the same victim; on 17th October a leg was unearthed by a dog brought to the site of the trunk’s discovery. It, too, matched. Despite this partial re-assembling of the victim, the head and missing limbs were never recovered and so her identity remains unknown. Given the fact that she had been killed in the midst of the crimes of Jack the Ripper, and her remains hidden at what would be the new headquarters of the Metropolitan Police, some newspapers asked whether the Ripper was responsible and the dumping of the body a deliberate taunting of the authorities. It is a theory which still attracts some today.
Construction was completed in 1890, and the new headquarters opened as New Scotland Yard. It would be the home of the Metropolitan Police’s Central Office until 1967, when the Met – and the name – moved to the new New Scotland Yard on Broadway.
In the 1970s the building was refurbished for use by MPs, given the close proximity to the Houses of Parliament, with further work between 2001 and 2003.