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Jerome Caminada, born from an Italian father and Irish mother, was a real-life Victorian super-sleuth whose ground-breaking detective work in the notorious rookeries of 19th century Manchester earned him a place in the city’s history as the first Detective Superintendent.
Jerome Caminada (1844 – March 1914) was a 19th-century police officer in Manchester, England. Caminada served with the police between 1868 and 1899, and has been called Manchester’s Sherlock Holmes. In 1897 he became the city’s first CID superintendent. His most famous case was the Manchester Cab Murder of 1889, in which he discovered and brought the initially unknown perpetrator to trial and conviction only three weeks after the murder.
Caminada was born in Deansgate, Manchester in 1844, to an Irish mother and an Italian father. At that time, Deansgate consisted mostly of public houses, brothels, and poor quality housing for mill workers, and was the heart of Victorian Manchester’s crime world.
He began working as an engineer in the city, but in February 1868, he joined the Manchester City Police force, at the age of 24. In 1872 he was promoted to sergeant, and transferred to the newly formed detectives division, based in the town hall. Over his thirty-year career, he earned the respect of colleagues, judges and criminals alike; he was often known as Detective Jerome to the local criminals, who struggled with pronouncing his last name.
In 1888, Caminada’s national reputation for policing – he was reportedly responsible for the imprisonment of 1,225 criminals and for the closure of 400 public houses – earned him promotion to inspector. Threats on his life were commonplace; Caminada often carried a pistol, and had cause to use it on more than one occasion.
His policing style was eccentric by modern standards, and often involved dressing in disguise to gather evidence on suspects. He maintained a large network of informers, who he would often meet in St. Mary’s Church, known as the Hidden Gem. His methods were effective however, and he was soon made Detective Superintendent..
Caminada retired in 1899, and become a private detective, an estate agent, and a Manchester city councillor for Openshaw between 1907 and 1910. He died in 1914 at his home in Moss Side at the age of 70, as a result of injuries he had received in a bus accident in North Wales the previous year. He is buried in Manchester’s Southern Cemetery.