Books – London’s police stations, past and present…

London Police Stations
Eileen Sanderson
Amberley Publishing, Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK, 2021
ISBN – 978 1 3981 0016 9

Since the opening of the first purpose-built police station in Bow Street in 1831, police stations have grown to become a familiar feature in high streets across London.

But policing in the capital is in a state of flux with stations closing and resources consolidated. Thankfully comes Eileen Sanderson’s London Police Stations with the aim of capturing what is mainly a “pictorial record of these buildings as they exist now while these changes are occurring”.

Divided into six chapters – the first presenting a potted history of the Metropolitan Police Service and each thereafter covering a different geographical area of London, London Police Stations captures the diverse range of architectural styles that police stations are created in – from the late 19th century grandeur of stations like Kentish Town to more modern office blocks like that of Paddington Green.

It’s also filled with fascinating tidbits of police history. We learn about the small police station that was once located inside the top of Marble Arch overlooking Hyde Park (and another at the top of Wellington Arch on the other side of the park), that the original lamp from the now closed Vine Street Police Station hangs outside the modern Holborn Police Station, and how the lion-shaped brass doorknockers, stolen from Rotherhithe Police Station in 1881, turned up in 1952 following a death bed confession in which a man admitted that he had taken them as a drunken dare and had kept them hidden ever since.

A fascinating insight into the evolution of policing in London, London Police Stations will appeal to anyone interested in digging a little deeper into the fabric of London and its policing history.