15 May 1855

The Great Gold Robbery. Gold bullion locked in safe in a guard's compartment of a train is stolen whilst en-route between London and Paris. The thieves replace the gold with lead shot and re-seal the boxes so the crime is not discovered until Paris. It is an 'inside job' and three men are convicted and transported to Australia for life. One of the bullion boxes is on display at the National Railway Museum at York.

10 January 1863

The world's first underground railway opens between Farringdon Street and Paddington.


The Great Western Railway forms the first 'Detective Department'.

September 1867

John Reid and some friends comment on the smoky atmosphere at Gower Street Underground station (now Euston Square) by "coughing outrageously". When a porter, Henry Maunders asks them to be quiet, Reid pulls his beard and is later fined £3 for assault. This may be the first record of a crime on the Underground.


The Great Western Railway Act is passed which gives its police officers jurisdiction on and within half a mile of the railway. It also requires them to produce their warrant card on demand with a penalty of 40 shillings for failure.

13 September 1880

A bundle of explosives is placed on the track between Bushey and Watford with the purpose of blowing up a train carrying Grand Duke Constantine of Russia. Chief Superintendent Copping of the MR Police assists the Metropolitan Police with the investigation. This is the first record of terrorism on the railway in mainland Britain.


The Regulation of Railways Act created offences of travel fraud which are still in use today.


London Underground electrifies its railway.

26 November 1907

Superintendent Dobie and three other NER police officers from Hull docks visit Ghent in Belgium to study the police dogs in use there. The following year police dogs are used at Hull, the first occasion they are used in the UK.

20 December 1917

The first policewomen are sworn in on the North Eastern Railway. Women police officers were previously employed on the Great Eastern Railway and Great Western Railway.


The Railways Act amalgamates more than a hundred separate railway systems (most with their own police forces) into four groups: the Great Western Railway, the London and North Eastern Railway, the London Midland and Scottish Railway and the Southern Railway. Each of these has a police force headed by a chief of police.

October 1948

The first edition of the staff magazine The Railway Police Journal, later the British Transport Police Journal, is published.

Next: 1951-2004