There’s a rumour knocking around that London is finally to get a police museum that will be open to the public. The infamous ‘Black Museum’ of Scotland Yard began in 1877 (it’s now called the Crime Museum) and is in Victoria Street. It’s in two rooms; the first contains an extensive collection of weapons, all of which have been used in murders or serious assaults in London, and displays items from famous cases, mostly prior to 1900, such as Jack the Ripper and Charlie Peace.
There’s a display of the death masks of people hanged at Newgate Prison adorning a high shelf and looking down at visitors. The second room contains cabinets under the following categories;
Murder of Police Officers
Hostages and hijacking
Famous cases shown in the museum include Ruth Ellis, John Christie, the Stratton Brothers, John George Haigh, Neville Heath, Dennis Nilsen, Dr. Neil Cream, Mr. & Mrs.Seddon, Dr. Crippen and Craig Bentley. The museum is not open to members of the public but is now used as a lecture theatre for the curator to lecture police in subjects such as Forensic Science, Pathology, Law and Investigative Techniques.
Now, the new owners of the decommissioned Bow Street Magistrates’ Court are thinking about opening a police crime museum in the old cells. With sensitive handling it could become a brilliant addition to London’s catalogue of unusual and popular museums. So, no spiked binoculars, then!