City of London Police Station at Wood St, EC2

Author
Peter Clarke, City of London Police historian and tour guide

Wood Street Police Station stands on the site of the Church of St. Alban, and its churchyard, and adjoining properties. When designed, the plan was to build the station in line with the original street line but then the building was set back and Wood Street widened in order to allow the old tower of the church to remain. While digging foundations, Roman and medieval remains were exposed and carefully recorded. Some of the Roman masonry is preserved and embodied in the foyer of the building, where it may be seen by the public.

The building was planned in two parts. A thirteen-storey tower block and a four-storey building constructed around an internal courtyard. The basement and sub-basement extend over the whole site and contain engineering plant rooms and car parking facilities.

Wood Street Police Station c. 1966, south west facade

The construction of the building is of reinforced concrete with external walls of brick, faced with Portland stone. The roof is covered with Westmorland green slate .Interior finishings and equipment were chosen and designed with a view to economy in maintenance. The structural work up to street level took 14 months to complete. Work on the superstructure began in November 1963.

The building is a multi-purpose one for the City of London Police; originally it contained an operational police station together with administrative and specialist departments and residential accommodation.

The police station, which occupied the major part of the first two floors, replaced Cloak Lane (“D” Division) Station, built in 1888. The divisional area of responsibility was the central portion of the City of London with a daytime population of over 300,000, and included such nationally important buildings as the Guildhall, Mansion House and Bank of England as well as the Barbican development.

The interior of the building was planned to give the greatest operational efficiency with the most up-to-date facilities at the time. The important features of the station,such as the public office, C.I.D. offices, cells and interview rooms, were grouped around the main entrance.

The headquarters of the City of London Special Constabulary were situated on the third floor, immediately above the divisional station. A full suite of offices was provided as well as a reinstated “Wakefield Mess”. This allowed the Special Constabulary to be entirely self-contained, but readily available for operationa lrequirements.

The Clothing Store of the Force was accommodated on the fourth floor of the lower building and was designed to facilitate easier storage and issue of the large number of uniforms required. It also had a tailors’ shop with steam-pressing equipment.

The fourth,fifth and sixth floors of the Tower Block contained the Force's “A” Department, which was responsible for all traffic, transport, and communications services of the City Police. A modern communication system is built into the station with a central Control Room linked to New Scotland Yard and other police forces.

The next four floors each have ten bed-sitting rooms, three floors for single men and a floor for women. Each bedroom has its own washbasin, built-in cupboards, divan bed and chairs. In addition, each floor has a lounge and bathroom facilities. On the ninth floor a small laundry and a hobbies room were available for the residents. The remaining floors of the building contained overnight accommodation for officers, and two married quarters for senior officers.

A bedroom in Wood Street Police Station from Walk Tall in the City, a City of London Police recruitment campaign

The amenities and recreational facilities provided in the building included two squash courts. A large assembly hall, known as McMorran Hall, capable of seating 400 people included facilities for its use as a cinema or theatre. It was also possible to include an enlarged divisional library and Force Museum. A large canteen was provided, as well as a restaurant.

McMorran Hall

A feature of the ground floor layout was the stabling arrangement for the mounted section of the Force. The stables were entirely self-contained, with fodder, harness and tack rooms. The horses were accommodated in loose boxes, which allowed them more freedom than stalls.

Underground car parking for 100 vehicles was provided in the two basements. This was also available as a “Pound” for vehicles removed by police from the streets, in addition to police vehicles. Turntables were installed to assist parking.

In later years, operational requirements superseded the residential needs and the bedrooms and other residents’ facilities were converted into offices for the Fraud department, though the offices still retained the built-in wardrobes and . The canteen and restaurant were also converted into offices.

As the Force vehicle fleet changed and vehicles became larger only cars could be parked in the basements and the turntables were too small to be used.

Later with Force reorganisation, the operational police station closed, though the specialist departments remained. With further restructuring, the building is due to close at the end of the year and there are plans to convert it into a hotel.