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Last Updated: Friday, 14 July 2006, 18:08 GMT 19:08 UK
Bow Street court closes its doors
Inside Bow Street Magistrates' Court
The court is to be turned into a luxury hotel
Bow Street Magistrates Court, one of London's most famous legal landmarks, has closed its doors for the last time.

The closure ends 267 years of legal history at a court which played host to characters as diverse as Oscar Wilde and the Kray Twins.

At least five court officials wept as Judge Timothy Workman delivered a closing speech at the beginning of the day's session.

The historic building will now be turned into a luxury hotel.

A museum space is said to be part of the plans for the hotel.

Unfortunately there is no value to be placed on history and heritage
Judge Timothy Workman
Jason Handy's name will go down in history as the final defendant at the court.

Mr Handy, 33, originally from Kirkcaldy, emerged from the court surrounded by cheering jailers and security staff with his hands high above his head.

He was facing a charge of breaching an anti-social behaviour order and was told to appear at a different court at a later date.

Earlier this week Judge Timothy Workman criticised the decision to close the court, a Grade II listed building, saying: "Unfortunately there is no value to be placed on history and heritage."

It was at the court's former site near Covent Garden that the UK's magistrates court system began to take shape under Sir Thomas De Veil in 1739.

Famous names including Oscar Wilde, Dr Crippen, the Kray Twins and Jeffrey Archer are among those whose cases have been heard in the court.

The court - and its neighbouring police station - which closed 13 years ago - have been bought by an Irish property developer.

The firm, Edward Holdings, from Galway, has said the hotel will be a "sympathetic redevelopment".

Staff will move to Horseferry Road Magistrates Court, which will be known as City of Westminster Magistrates Court.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Some of the infamous names who have appeared at the court



SEE ALSO
Bow Street bows out
12 Jul 06 |  Magazine
Historic court goes up for sale
17 Aug 04 |  London
Courts plan sparks justice fears
31 Oct 01 |  England

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