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Scotland Yard

When the Metropolitan Police were being established in 1829, one of the first tasks was to find a building to act as the new headquarters.   The building was at 4 Whitehall Place.

The new building was adjacent to the Public Carriage Office where a Commissioner was already responsible for the licensing of taxi cabs.   When the public went to see the new Commissioners, they used the back entrance of 4 Whitehall Place the rear of which was converted into a police station.  The reception area soon became known as "Back Hall", an expression still used today in the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police.   This entrance was in Great Scotland Yard, off Whitehall, and the building soon became known as Scotland Yard.   For more details of the name click here.

In earlier years, the stretch of land beside the River Thames had consisted of palaces and fine houses of the aristocracy.   Many of the street names (eg Northumberland Avenue, Arundel Street) reflect this history.   It is said that the Kings of Scotland had part of Whitehall Palace  there for their use when they visited London, and this is said to be the origin of the street name "Great Scotland Yard".   Former alleys known as Middle and Little Scotland Yard had been merged into Whitehall Place.   People soon dropped the "Great" and the place became known simply as "Scotland Yard"   Another theory is that a man called Scott owned the land, and the area became known as Scott's land, shortened to Scotland.


On 30th May 1884, the Fenians exploded a bomb at the location, which blew a hole in the wall of Scotland Yard, and damaged the Rising Sun public house.   People came to inspect the damage, and the proprietor charged 3d (about 1p) a head for spectators, and his premises thereby gained an unsought popularity.


By 1890 a new headquarters had been needed for many years, and the Metropolitan Police moved into a new building, designed by Norman Shaw, on Embankment.   The building was to have been the site of an opera house, but the project had been abandoned when partly built.  the new building was faced with granite quarried by prisoners on Dartmoor, and a female body, the victim of an unsolved murder, was found in the basement of the building, which became known as New Scotland Yard.

In 1967, the Metropolitan Police again moved headquarters to their current address of 10 Broadway, London, SW1H 0BG, on a site which also borders on Victoria Street.   The name "New Scotland Yard" was retained.                    

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