New Scotland Yard Museum

The Crime Museum

Early drawing of the Crime Museum previously known as theThe Prisoners Property Act of 1869 gave authority for police to retain certain items of prisoners' property for instructional purposes, but it was the opening of the Central Prisoners Property Store on 25th April 1874 that provided the opportunity to start a collection. The store was housed in No. 1 Great Scotland Yard, which was at the rear of the Commissioner's Office at No. 4, Whitehall Place.

The idea of a crime museum was conceived by an Inspector Neame who had already collected together a number of items, with the intention of giving police officers practical instruction on how to detect and prevent burglary, and it is certain that by the latter part of 1874, although it was not described as such, a museum of sorts was in existence. It was later that year that the official authority was given for a proper crime museum to be opened.

Inspector Neame, with the help of a P.C. Randall, gathered together sufficient material of both old and new cases to enable a proper museum to be opened. The actual date in 1875 when it opened is not known, but the permanent appointment of Neame and Randall to duty in the Prisoners Property Store on the 12th April suggests that the museum came into being in the latter part of that year.

There was no official opening of the museum, and two years elapsed before we find a record of the first visitors. This was on the 6th October 1877 when the Commissioner, Sir Edmund Henderson, KCB, accompanied by the Assistant Commissioners, Lt. Col. Labolmondiere and Capt. Harris, visited with other dignitaries. By now there was a steady increase in the number viewing the displays and the first visitors book, which spans some eighteen years from 1877 to 1894, reads like a current 'Who's Who'. Certainly not all visitors were asked to sign the visitors book but, as instruction in the museum was part of CID training, the museum was in constant use.

In 1877 the name 'Black Museum' was coined, when on the 8th April a reporter from 'The Observer' newspaper used the term after being refused a visit by Inspector Neame. However the museum is now referred to as the Crime Museum.

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