This Day in History (1-Jan-1881) – Dr John H Watson is introduced to Sherlock Holmes

Dr. Watson, in full Dr. John H. Watson, is a fictional English physician who is Sherlock Holmes’s devoted friend and associate in a series of detective stories and novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Watson, born in 1852, has served as an army surgeon in India, where he was wounded during the second Afghan War, and has returned to England in impaired health. He and Holmes meet in London; they share rooms at 221B Baker Street. The medical practice Watson establishes does not prevent him from accompanying Holmes on his crime-fighting cases, which he later records and publishes. The character of Watson, as written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is modest and intelligent.

Though fictitious, the date and location references make one feel like reading some historical events. At the time the Holmes stories were published, addresses in Baker Street did not go as high as 221. Baker Street was later extended, and in 1932 the Abbey National Building Society moved into premises at 219–229 Baker Street. For many years, Abbey National employed a full-time secretary to answer mail addressed to Sherlock Holmes. In 1990, a plaque signifying 221B Baker Street was installed at the Sherlock Holmes Museum, situated elsewhere on the same block. Since the closure of Abbey House in 2005, ownership of the address by the Holmes Museum has not been challenged, despite its location between 237 and 241 Baker Street. The house is protected by the government due to its “special architectural and historical interest”, while the 1st floor study overlooking Baker Street is still faithfully maintained for posterity as it was kept in Victorian Times.

The prototype for the modern mastermind detective, Holmes first appeared in Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet, published in Beeton’s Christmas Annual of 1887. As the world’s first and only “consulting detective,” he pursued criminals throughout Victorian and Edwardian London, the south of England, and continental Europe. Among the most popular stories in which he is featured are The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle (1892), The Adventure of the Speckled Band (1892), The Adventure of the Six Napoleons(1904), and the novel The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902).

Reference:

http://www.historyorb.com/day/january/1

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/637629/Dr-Watson

http://www.sherlock-holmes.co.uk/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/221B_Baker_Street

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/269523/Sherlock-Holmes

This Day in History (16-Mar-1830) – London’s re-organised police force (Scotland Yard)

Scotland Yard (officially New Scotland Yard) is a metonym for the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Service, the territorial police force responsible for policing most of London. In 1829, home secretary Sir Robert Peel, by an Metropolitan Police Act introduced in Parliament, set up the first disciplined police force for the Greater London area. As a result of Peel’s efforts, the London police force became known as Bobby’s boys and later simply as bobbies.

The task of organising and designing the “New Police” was placed in the hands of Colonel Charles Rowan and Richard Mayne. These two Commissioners occupied a private house at 4, Whitehall Place, the back of which opened on to a courtyard. The courtyard was used as a police station. The location had been the site of a residence owned by the Kings of Scotland before the Union and used and occupied by them and/or their ambassadors when in London, and known as ‘”Scotland”. The courtyard was later used by Sir Christopher Wren and known as “Scotland Yard”.  It was this address that led to the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police being known as Scotland Yard. The Scotland Yard entrance became the public entrance to the police station, and over time the street and the Metropolitan Police became synonymous.  Scotland Yard became the name for police activity in London though the headquarters is no more at the same location.

Although Scotland Yard’s responsibility is limited to metropolitan London, its assistance is often sought by police in other parts of England, particularly with regard to difficult cases. Some of its most infamous cases handled by Scotland Yard ranges from Jack the Ripper in 1888 to the 2005 London bombings. Scotland Yard has become internationally famous as a symbol of policing, and detectives from Scotland Yard feature in many works of crime fiction. They were frequent allies, and sometimes antagonists, of Sherlock Holmes in Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous stories. It is also referred to in Around the World in Eighty Days. Many novelists have adopted fictional Scotland Yard detectives as the heroes or heroines of their stories. In the James Bond novels by Ian Fleming mentions a recurring fictional character who works for Scotland Yard.

Reference:

http://www.historyorb.com/day/march/16

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scotland_Yard

http://content.met.police.uk/Article/Scotland-Yard/1400015476700/1400015476700

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/a-brief-history-of-scotland-yard-172669755/?no-ist=

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/448660/Sir-Robert-Peel-2nd-Baronet