Friends of the

Metropolitan Police History

Time Zone: 1886 - 1899


Metropolitan Police Act.

Uniform: Ps/Pcs issued with new pattern armlets of blue and white stripes of equal length.

Riot (Damages) Act.

Special Irish Branch became known as the Special Branch

Feb 8 - Black Monday. Riots in Trafalgar Square, Pall Mall and Oxford Street.

Mar 26 - Trafalgar Square riots forced the resignation of Commissioner, Sir Edmund HENDERSON.

Mar 29 - Sir Charles WARREN appointed Commissioner.

Apr - New ‘F’ or Paddington Police Division formed.

May - St Pauls Railway Station opened (now Blackfriars).

Jul 19 - Report of Committee on Administration and Organisation of the Metropolitan Police Force.

Aug - New ‘J’ or Bethnal Green Division formed.

Sep - Wanstead Police Station opens.

Oct - The four District Superintendents re-designated Chief Constables. (Police Order 27 October 1886).


Queen Victoria’s Jubilee.

Dynamite plot.

Sub-Divisional Inspector rank introduced.

Sheriffs Act.

Legal Advice by solicitors instead of legal advisor. Police prosecutions taken over by WONTNERS.

Uniform: Rattle replaced by whistle on night patrol. (Police Order 25 June 1887).

Police Disabilities Removal Act.

Metropolitan Police Act.

CASS case leads to overthrow of government.

Jan - New Truncheons 151” long. ( Police Order 11 January 1887). Truncheon cases abolished and tipstaves abolished.

Feb - West Dulwich police station opened.

Jun - Appointment of Captain G. H. DEAN and Captain A. C. KNOLLYS as Assistant Chief Constables (Police Order 15 June 1887).

Police Golden Jubilee medal approved.

Oct - North Fulham police station opened.

Nov - Upper Holloway and Thornton Heath police stations opened.

Nov 13 - Unemployment riot in Trafalgar Square, known as Bloody Sunday, the first test for the new Commissioner. Guards called out. Sporadic rioting continued until 2 December.


London County Council established.

Local Government Act. Joint local authorities responsible for police instead of Justices.

Sir Robert ANDERSON appointed Assistant Commissioner C.I.D.

Dynamite plots.

Sep - Murder of Catherine Eddowes - the only Whitechapel Murders victim to be killed in the City of London (Jack the Ripper).

Dec 1 - Commissioner, Sir Charles WARREN resigned following criticism by Home Office.

Dec 3 - James MONRO appointed Commissioner.


Great Dock Strike.

Council park keepers took over London parks (except Hyde Park).

Apr - New County of London (LCC) created out of parts of Middlesex, Kent and Surrey.

May 11 - MAYBRICK Case.

Jul 17 - Arguably the last of the so-called ‘Whitechapel’ murders was discovered with the death in Castle Alley of Alice McKENZIE.

Opening of the new headquarters at the Norman Shaw building on the Embankment known as New Scotland Yard.

Police strike at Bow Street Police Station.


Motor cars first seen on roads.

Police Act - First statutory pensions.

Move from Great Scotland Yard to New Scotland Yard on embankment (the Norman Shaw Building).

London County Council (General Powers) Act.

Police Pay - 25 - 35 shillings per week.

Post of Engineer for Heating and Lighting for the Metropolitan Police created.

Mar - Metropolitan and City Police Convalescent Home opened at 51 Clarendon Villas, West Brighton, Sussex.

Jun 21 - James MONRO resigned, stating his belief that police pensions were insufficient.

Jun 23 - Sir Edward BRADFORD appointed Commissioner.

Jul - Police Strike at Bow Street (only a few officers involved).

Dec 8 - Rank of Sub-Inspector abolished.

Dec 10 - Move from old premises to New Scotland Yard (except C.I.D. who moved on Dec 22).


The body of Frances Coles found mutilated beneath railway arches near Leman Street police station starts new ‘Jack the Ripper’ scare.

Tickets introduced on buses and trams - leading to strike of drivers and conductors.

Mar 21 - The Public Carriage Office and the Lost Property Office move from Great Scotland Yard to the new offices at New Scotland Yard. Other branches move later in the year. (Police Order 20 March 1891)


DS Joseph JOYCE (Wt No 52406) shot twice and fatally wounded when arresting a burglar at Charing Cross Road.

Juan Vucetich in Argentina solves child murder case by comparing fingerprints of a suspect and the children's mother.

Feb - Over 1050 officers on duty between the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington Butts and West Norwood Cemetery for the funeral of the Rev C. H. Spurgeon.

May - The last Broad-Gauge train departs from Paddington for Penzance.

Jul 21 - Dismissals and Rank and Pay deductions were common at this point, and the case of PC 379’A’ BEST whose resignation on this day illustrated how the Metropolitan Police attempted to keep its men in order. He was ‘in possession of a tea-can, the property of another constable, obliterating the owner’s number and substituting his own name and number, telling a deliberate falsehood in connection therewith and considered unfit for the police force.’


Blood Test discovered by BORDET.

Police Disabilities Removal Act.

Police Authorities Protection Act.

PC George COOK (Wt No 73717) a serving officer, was convicted for murder and hanged.


The BERTILLON anthropometric system adopted for 6 years as result of a Home Office Committee which also considered fingerprints.

Feb - Greenwich Bomb Outrage. Anarchist (Bourdin) blew himself up.

Jun 30 - Tower Bridge opened by the Prince of Wales.


To join the Metropolitan police, the following qualifications were necessary:

  • be over 21 and under 27 years of age
  • stand clear 5ft 9ins without shoes or socks
  • be able to read well, write legibly and to have a fair knowledge of spelling
  • be generally intelligent
  • be free of any bodily complaint

The bodily complaints for which candidates were rejected included flat foot, stiffness of the joints, narrow chest and deformity of the face.

Uniform: Armlet loops added to sleeves above the cuff.

Steam launches introduced for Thames Police.

Metropolitan Police (Receiver) Act. Post of Deputy Receiver for the Metropolitan Police created.

Galton’s fingerprint system tentatively introduced.

Thames Division Police Station at Blackwall opened.

Apr 3 - Trial of Oscar WILDE at the Central Criminal Court.

Dec 16 - Adolf BECK wrongly first conviction of a series of frauds on identification and handwriting evidence (See 1904).


Amalgamation of Home Office Habitual Criminals Registry and Convict Supervision Office at New Scotland Yard.

The Public Carriage Office and the Lost Property Office amalgamated under the designation ‘Public Carriage Branch’.

Apr - Kentish Town Police Station opened.

Jul - Kenley Police Station opened.

Sep - St Mary Cray Police Station opened.

Nov - Locomotives on the Highway Act.

Speed limit raised to 14 m.p.h. from 4 m.p.h. (in 2 towns).

Man with red flag walking in front of vehicle dispensed with.

Lamp and bell or horn to be used as a warning instrument.

Dec - Sir Edmund HENDERSON, former Commissioner, died.

Goffs Oak Police Station opened


The Metropolitan Police Officers were granted a boot allowance instead of being supplied with boots. Police boots at this time were loathed, only Sir Edward Bradford, the Commissioner, believing them suitable.

Uniform: New style tunics - Blue serge, single-breasted had five white Victoria Crown buttons down front (until 1934). Two outside pockets with three pointed flaps, one small white Victoria Crown on each. (1864 tunic retained for night and winter wear).

Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

Metropolitan Police (Borrowing Powers) Act.

Police (Property) Act.

Edward HENRY studied fingerprints in Bengal.

May - Pinner Police Station opened.

Blackwall Tunnel opened.

Jul 16 - Appointment of two matrons at Bow Street Police Station to attend to female prisoners.

Nov 5 - First few electric cabs licensed.

First Electric Buses


Oct - After a series of assaults and the murder of PC James BALDWIN (fatally stabbed when attempting to arrest a drunken man for causing a disturbance in a street at Hoxton) there were calls for the Metropolitan Police to be armed with revolvers.

Waterloo and City Railway opened (‘The Drain’).


Electric trams and motor buses first seen.

5,000 horse-drawn buses and trams in London.

Taximeters first appeared on horse cabs.

Metropolitan Police Act.

Start of Boer War.

High rate of suicides among officers. This was blamed by certain commentators on harsh discipline and insensitive handling of the men.

As the century drew to a close it was worthy of noting that the Metropolitan Police on formation in 1829 had a force of about 3,000 men and by 1899 had 16,000. The population of London had grown from 1.5 million to 7 million.

Feb 25 - First Driver to lose life in Road Traffic Accident - Mr E. R SEWELL (MP Journal, April 1994).

Mar - Marylebone Main Line Railway Terminus opened.

Oct - First petrol driven Daimler bus runs between Kennington Gate and Victoria.

Boer War Commences. London Omnibuses sent to the front.


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