• Behind the Blue Lamp


In January 1859 the Home Office authorised the purchase of a freehold site for £550 for a new police station in Tottenham. The station cost £1,966 to build and had four cells on the ground floor. On the first and second floors there was accommodation for twelve constables and one married inspector. In 1864 the address of the station was shown as ‘near Scotland Green, Tottenham, on N or Islington Division, moving the following year to High Road and Y or Highgate Division.

It is not often that events in other parts of Europe have repercussions in London, and especially not in Tottenham, but this was the case in 1909. In 1907 there was a failed attempt to blow up the President of France; instead the bomber blew himself to pieces. His two companions (one of whom was his brother) fled France and found refuge in England.

On 23 January 1909 they decided to rob the Schnurmann Rubber Factory in Chestnut Road, Tottenham. This incident became known as the Tottenham outrage. One conspirator had left the factory after finding the work too hard, but suggested they would be a soft target when the wages were delivered on a Saturday. The robbery was a farce, but a number of shots were fired and the thieves managed to escape with the money. The sound of gunshots alerted two police officers at Tottenham Police Station, PC510 Newman and PC403 Tyler, who jumped into a passing car to give chase. The two constables attempted to head off the conspirators, but when confronted one took careful aim and shot Constable Tyler straight through the head. He died instantly.

The chase lasted more than two hours and covered a distance of six miles. While trying to scale a fence and being pursued by a multitude of police one of the conspirators shot himself in the head. He was not killed outright, but stayed alive for an agonising three weeks before he died in hospital. The other made off and eventually took refuge in the bedroom of a nearby house, where he shot himself when the room was stormed by police.

In addition to the deaths of Constable Tyler and 10-year-old Ralph Joscelyne, the conspirators also wounded twenty-one other people during their attempt to escape. The picture below shows the funeral procession of PC Tyler through the streets of Tottenham on their way to Abney Park cemetery, where he was buried on 29th January 1909.

A new police station at ‪394-396 High Road, Tottenham opened in May 1914, serving Tottenham to this day.

In 1985 a tragic incident occurred on the Broadwater Farm Estate in Tottenham. ‪On 5th October police searched the address of Mrs Cynthia Jarrett in Thorpe Road as a result of the arrest of her son Floyd. During the search Mrs Jarrett collapsed and died. Community leaders made complaints at Tottenham Police Station the following day, and perceiving a lack of action a breakaway group of people began to congregate and demonstrate outside the police station. This resulted in a disturbance where the windows of the station were broken. A police inspector driving past the Broadwater Farm Estate was set upon by two youths on a motorcycle, causing injury to the officer and damage to the car. Police responding to an emergency call to the estate were surrounded. Officers with riot equipment attended but were ill-prepared for what happened next. Under sustained attack some time later Constable Keith Blakelock, attached to Tottenham Police Station, was stabbed to death by the angry crowd.

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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