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Sights worth seeing,

November 06 2023

'Ello 'Ello – London's law keepers

London has been policed since Roman times, so the capital has a rich history of crime fighting. Visit London’s police museum where you can step into the dock and sit inside former cells. Look out for Britain’s smallest station at one of London’s most famous landmarks. And meet the Beadles protecting a grand London arcade. We stay on the right side of the law and invite you to visit these crime-solving hotspots. 


Bow Street Police Museum London

This former police station and courthouse in Covent Garden opened in 1881 and was operational until 2006. Bow Street reopened as a museum in 2021, revealing tales of the people who entered. Learn about the UK’s first organised police force, the Bow Street Runners, and sit in the cells that once held Oscar Wilde and the wife poisoner, Dr Crippen. This station also processed General Pinochet and the notorious Kray twins. Stand in Court No 2 Dock and see the memorabilia on display in the old drunk tank. It’s a revealing insight into one of London’s oldest police stations. 


Britain’s smallest police station

Around 15 million people visit Trafalgar Square every year. They come to see Nelson’s Column, visit the National Gallery and see the lions. Most people, though, miss the tiny former police station tucked away in the southeast corner. The police built this mini station in 1926 inside an ornamental lamp post plinth as a secretive way to monitor troublesome protestors. The single officer squeezed inside had access to a telephone, and whenever they picked up the receiver to summon help, the large light on the top would flash. It’s a quirky, hidden piece of the square’s history. 


Burlington Arcade Beadles

Opened in 1819, Burlington Arcade is London’s oldest covered shopping arcade in England. At either end, there are guards known as Beadles dressed in Edwardian finery. The arcade’s police force predates the Metropolitan police by a decade and used to stop drunken men from nearby drinking dens and gentlemen’s clubs entering. The Beadles ensured it was a safe and elegant space for women to shop. Today, this beautiful arcade with a grand glazed roof is home to upmarket shops attracting royalty and Hollywood stars. It’s also a short walk from our Thistle Piccadilly hotel. 


Earl’s Court Police Box

Step into the Dr Who world with a photo outside a time-travelling Tardis at Earl’s Court, opposite Earl’s Court station entrance. These bright blue police boxes were once a common fixture on British streets. From the 1920s till the late 1960s, before phones were in every home, the police and public used them to make emergency calls. The police box has since become a British icon thanks to the popular cult television series. But few remain and this is the only permanent one in London. Unfortunately, you can’t use it to teleport yourself across London. 

It would be criminal of us not to mention our Thistle Hotels across London, which put you close to the city’s best attractions. Thistle Trafalgar Square and Thistle Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are just two of our Central London options.