Brick walls are certainly a common sight in London, and you’d be forgiven for walking down Myddelton Passage without giving the one that runs along the side of the footpath a second glance. But if you take the time to look a little closer, the wall holds a peculiar relic.
A series of numbers, letters, and dates have been carved into the brickwork, but they weren’t put there by any old vandal. These marks make up a unique historical record, first scratched into the wall over a century ago. While the numbers and letters may appear random, they in fact clearly identify the perpetrators.
The carvings point the way back to the Metropolitan Police, and each refers to a personal collar number, followed by letters indicating their division. Many of the numbers along this passage are followed by a “G” to denote the Metropolitan Police’s G Division, based out of the nearby King’s Cross Police Station.
While we may never know which officer started the trend, what this reveals is that at some point in the 19th century, Myddelton Passage became a gallery for the graffiti of passing police. Some even went so far as to also add their initials, or even names. This practice seemed to continue until the First World War, when it was presumably interrupted.
Myddelton Passage had a bit of a reputation in the 19th century, and it appears in a number of court reports from the time. Perhaps this explains the police presence in the area, and why this particular passage was chosen to be marked. However, a trip down the lane today is far less fearsome, and well worth the visit.