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  • Behind the Blue Lamp

MURDER OF A POLICEMAN AT KING STREET STATION

King Street no longer exists as a street, but once ran parallel to the modern Parliament Street at the south end of Whitehall. In 1847 a police station was built at 22 King Street, on the corner of Gardiner’s Lane, with the police taking up possession at Christmas that year.


It was a substantial station, costing £7,626 10s 10d, with 13 rooms, including a charge room, offices for a superintendent and two inspectors, a library, and living accommodation for two inspectors and four sergeants. A section house for 104 single officers fronted on to Gardiner’s Lane. There were stables for 16 horses, with rooms for the grooms, and two sheds for horse-drawn vans. By 1894, a scheme to widen Parliament Street meant that the police station had to be demolished, and the station was replaced by Cannon Row.





At 10.30pm on 7th May 1868, a “diminutive, wild looking” man was brought in and charged with breaking two beer glasses at another nearby public house, The Mitre and Dove. On hearing the charge, the man, a 32-year-old tailor named James Smith, shouted “Murder! Murder! They are after me!”


Although Smith seemed sober, the Divisional Surgeon examined him and recommended that he be carefully watched. Smith was placed in a cell and observed by Inspector David Baldwin.


In the early hours of the following day, Inspector Daniel Bradstock arrived with P.C. Alex Brown to check on the prisoner. When Brown went to fetch water for Smith, the latter suddenly rushed at Bradstock, brandishing a large pair of scissors and shouting “I will kill you, I will kill you.” The Inspector was stabbed twice in the neck and once on his right arm, and collapsed to the cell floor with blood gushing from a one inch-deep wound at the angle of his right jaw, saturating his tunic. He was immediately taken to Westminster Hospital.


Although Bradstock initially appeared to be making a good recovery, he died from his wounds on 2nd June. When Smith appeared at Bow Street Court on 11th June charged with the Inspector’s murder, his statement that “for the last nine months snares have been laid for me, and I have been followed everywhere I went by men who wished to destroy me” led the jury to conclude that the prisoner was of unsound mind and unfit to plead. Smith was ordered to be detained in safe custody at Her Majesty’s pleasure.

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