Have You Seen The Smallest Police Station?

Visit any major city in the UK and the majority of the tourist attractions that are advertised will be the biggest, the grandest or the oldest of whatever they have to offer. Very rarely do you come across something that is the smallest of anything. This is why London is such a great place to visit, its attractions are both ancient, modern and occasionally rather quirky. Take the smallest police station for example. You could walk past it, think nothing of it and fail to give it even a second look. But if you do you will encounter a part of the city’s history that has made it into the record books.

Photo by John W. Schulze
Photo by John W. Schulze

Big Brother is Watching You

The idea behind this wonderful little building, located in one corner of Trafalgar Square was that it would contain a single policeman who would be able to keep an eye on what was going on in the Square, long before the advent of CCTV. Aside from holding the one officer, if needed the officer could secure two prisoners inside until transportation arrived to take them elsewhere.

This is not one of the oldest buildings in the city, in fact it dates back only to the 1920’s, although details of its construction are somewhat secretive. There was once a small police station on the edge of the Square but when renovations were planned the public were less than happy with the proposed building, so the powers that be decided that something less obtrusive should be built in its place. And so this quirky little cupboard sized office with a light on top was formed.

Is it a Light or a Police Station?

Actually it is both. It is a hollowed out light fitting, which was given windows so that the officer on duty could see across and around the square and then, if trouble arose could use the telephone line that had been installed to call for back up officers from Scotland Yard to attend an incident if required. Because this is also a light fitting, when the officer inside the ‘office’ picked up the telephone the light on the top would start to flash to alert any officers nearby that assistance was required, and they would then come running to assist in whatever situation was transpiring.

Despite that fact that the building is still usable and in full working order this quirky little building is no longer in use as a police station, the modern day CCTV systems have reduced the need for the police to have men on the ground as it were. The building is still used though, although it’s purpose is a little less noble – it is the cleaners employed by Westminster Council that use it now, to store their street cleaning equipment. Rumour has it that the light in the top of the building originated from HMS Victory, Nelsons famous vessel. It is supposed to be one of the ornamental lights that adorned the ship, though this has never been proved.

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