• Behind the Blue Lamp


An imposing entrance-porch to a private house in Cannon Lane was once an eighteenth century cell holding horse-thieves and highwaymen. The local magistrate residing in Cannon Hall would detain offenders in this temporary prison – a room built in about 1730, in the thickness of the back wall. The system worked well until the first Hampstead police station was built in the 1830s, and the old “lock up” fell into neglect and became a garden shed. In 1981 the Hampstead Plaque Fund erected a plaque on this Grade One listed garden wall.

The first police station, known as the Old Watch House, was built in Holly Walk and used from 1829 until 1834, although Metropolitan Police records show that in 1832 the address was Holly Place, Hampstead. This is now a private residence – and the old cells serve the present owners as a dining room.

In 1834 the police leased larger premises at the bottom of Holly Hill, at the junction with Heath Street, where the clock tower building now stands. In 1868 this building had been demolished and rebuilt as a police fire station in the High Road.

The new police station opened for business in May 1868, and it was sufficiently large enough for a portion of the building to be used as a court.

Hampstead Police Station attracted fame momentarily when, in 1955, Ruth Ellis was charged there with the murder of her lover, David Blakely - a crime which saw her convicted and sentenced to death. She then became the last woman to be hanged in Britain.

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

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© 2020 ADAM WOOD.
Book content ©Mango Books.