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Time Line 1850 - 1869


1850 Retirement of Sir Charles Rowan as joint Commissioner. Captain William Hay is appointed in his place.    

1851 The Great Exhibition with its special crowd problems forces the police to temporarily form a new police division. The total manpower of the force at this time was 5,551, covering 688 square miles.

Cartoon critical of the police handling of the crowds at the Great Exhibition. The caption reads "The Ladies and the Police - the Battle of the Crystal Palace"


1852 Sir Charles Rowan, first joint Commissioner, dies. In his obituary note of 24 May The Times wrote: "No individual of any rank or station could be more highly esteemed or loved when living, or more regretted in death."    

1853 Lord Dudley Stuart, MP for Marylebone and a persistent critic of the police, suggests in Parliament that the police are not worth the money they cost. He recommends that they be reduced in numbers, and a higher class of officers be recruited to control the constables.    

1854 Out of 5,700 in the Metropolitan Force, 2.5% were Scottish, 6.5% Irish. The Commissioner was not happy about employing these officers in areas of high Scottish or Irish ethnic concentrations.    

1855 Death of Captain William Hay. Sir Richard Mayne becomes sole Commissioner.    

1856 Detective Force increased to 10 men, with an extra Inspector and Sergeant.    

1857 The Commissioner Richard Mayne is paid a salary of £1,883, and his two Assistant Commissioners are paid salaries of £800 each.    

1858 First acquisition of Police van for conveying prisoners. These were horse drawn, and known as 'Black Marias'.

Early Prison Van


1859 Police orders of 6 January state "It is a great gratification to the Commissioner that the number of police guilty of the offence of drunkenness during the late Christmas holidays has been much lower than last year... In A, F and R Division only one man was reported in each, and in H Division not one man was reported in the present or last year.."    

1860 Police begin the occasional use of hand ambulances for injured, sick or drunk people. Accommodation or 'ambulance sheds' are later provided for these in police station yards.    

1861

Police orders on the 25 January made allowance for one third of Metropolitan Police officers in Dockyards "to be relieved each Sunday, to give them an opportunity of attending Divine Service..."

The Metropolitan Police act as firemen at the British Museum. The Superintendent in charge said of them "From their manner of doing the work, I should be inclined to place considerable confidence in these men in an emergency."

Police fulfilling fire brigade duties at one of the Dockyard Divisions


1862 Further expansion in the Metropolitan Police with the formations of the X and W Divisions in the west, and Y Division in the north.    

1863 Drunkenness is still a problem in the force, and in this year 215 officers were dismissed for this reason.    

1864 Execution of 5 pirates of the ship 'Flowery Land' at Newgate. The Metropolitan Police supply nearly 800 officers to keep the peace.    

1865 Further extensions of the Metropolitan Police District in terms of the area patrolled in north east London.    

1866 3,200 police under the command of Commissioner Richard Mayne were used to control a serious riot in Hyde Park. 28 police were permanently disabled, and Mayne was hit by a stone which cut his head open. He was forced to call in the Military to restore order.    

1867 The Metropolitan Police are severely criticised after Commissioner Richard Mayne ignores a warning about the Clerkenwell bombing by the Fenians. Mayne offers his resignation, but it is refused.

Police inspect the scene at the Clerkenwell explosion


1868 Death of Commissioner Sir Richard Mayne. Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Labalmondiere acts as Commissioner.    

1869 Lieutenant Colonel Edmund Henderson appointed Commissioner.

Lt Cl. Edmund Henderson