Jack the Ripper, death masks and the Great Train Robbery: Museum of London to reveal objects from Metropolitan Police's Crime Museum

By Ben Miller | 04 June 2015

Six never-before-seen objects from the Metropolitan Police’s hidden Crime Museum to go on public show

A photo of a man in white gloves holding a brown sculpted mask of a man
Conservator Jon Readman takes a look at the death mask of Daniel Good© Museum of London
A laptop involved in the 2007 Glasgow Airport terrorist attack, the handwritten notes of the senior officer pursuing Jack the Ripper, the death mask of a Victorian man who murdered his wife and the hair of a woman arrested for alcohol-related offences will be revealed to the public later this year at the Museum of London in a varyingly grim set of objects from the Metropolitan Police Service’s Crime Museum.

Access to the top-secret evidence, including violins, tools, a false arm and a folding ladder used by the notorious cat-burglar Charles Peace, has only been granted to professionals and invited guests until now. The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime has worked on the exhibition with curators.

“The Metropolitan Police has amassed a fascinating collection of real objects and evidence from the UK’s most notorious criminal investigations that until now have been behind closed doors,” says Finbarr Whooley, the Director of Content behind The Crime Museum Uncovered, which will open in October.

“Each case has had a fundamental impact on society. Some have changed the way in which crimes are investigated and solved or how the capital is policed, whilst others have directly led to changes in the law.

A photo of a bottle of champagne next to a tin with the words liver salt written on it
© Museum of London
“From the infamous Jack the Ripper murders to lesser-known but important investigations, we look forward to re-examining these cases and opening them up to the public for the very first time.”

The Ripper-related artefact is a memoir with handwritten notes by Donald Swanson, the senior investigating officer, in its margins.

Among his personal thoughts, Swanson names Aaron Kosminski as the prime suspect during the late 19th century. A flyer and poster urging the public to help were issued in response to the infamous ‘Dear Boss’ letter, apparently written by the murderer in 1888.

Almost all of the data on the laptop, found in a car involved in the Glasgow attack, was recovered. Other key exhibits will include microdot secret messages and a reader found in the handbag of Mrs Kroger, who was arrested for her involvement in the Portland Soviet Spy Ring of 1961.

Stephen Greenhalgh, the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, said the exhibition would shine a deserved spotlight on the “fantastic” work of police and the stories of the victims of crime.

“What must not be forgotten are the victims who suffered at the hands of these criminals,” added Baroness Newlove, the Victims’ Commissioner, who has worked with the London Policing Ethics Panel and the museum on an aspect of the display they considered vital.

“It is important that victims are remembered for the person they once were, not defined by the victim they became.

“I am pleased that the exhibition recognises that their voice is central when investigating and prosecuting crimes."

The collection was established as a teaching tool to educate officers in 1875.


Five exhibits from the display

Death mask of Daniel Good

A close-up photo of a face of a dead man sculpted in some kind of brown material
© Museum of London
Good was executed outside Newgate prison on May 23 1842 for the murder of his wife, Jane Jones. The delay in catching Good sparked the formation of a dedicated detective team within the Metropolitan Police to address this.

Notice to Occupier flyer

A photo of a framed police notice to an occupier being held up by a man in white gloves
© Museum of London
Appealing to the public to come forward with any information regarding the infamous Jack the Ripper murders in 1888.

Personal possessions of the Great Train Robbery gang

A close-up photo of a bottle of champagne inside a wooden box
© Museum of London
Recovered from their hideout at Leatherslade Farm, including an empty bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne and a tin of Andrews Liver Salts, 1963.

Fourteen counterfeit silvered 2p coins

A photo of a set of silver coins on a piece of card beneath a police notice
© Museum of London
Seized by the Metropolitan Police in 1979.

A curious pin-cushion

A photo of a white square piece of stitching
© Museum of London
Embroidered with human hair by Annie Parker – a woman who, in her tragically short life, was arrested more than 400 times for alcohol-related offences. Dated from 1879.

  • The Crime Museum Uncovered runs from October 9 2015 – April 10 2016.

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