Queen Victoria (founder)
Yvonne Hartman (director, ending 2007)
Jack Harkness (Torchwood Three, later de facto director circa 2007)
Archie (Torchwood Two)
Eleanor, Duchess of
The Torchwood Institute (or "Torchwood" for short) was an
organisation founded in 1879 (TV: The New World) to protect the British Empire
It had branches across the Empire. Before 2007, the
leading branch was Torchwood One in
Owing to a series of crises in the late 2000s, Torchwood lost several bases and by 2010 the Institute was defunct. A small successor team which formed in the wake of Miracle Day was briefly active in 2011 but its operations too were short-lived.
Over time, the Institute accumulated much alien
technology, reverse-engineering it and applying it to secret military projects within
Hiding out in the open in
Torchwood operated in cells.
Captain Jack declared the organisation "outside the
government and beyond the police". It was different from
most British institutions, being created by royal decree and funded
directly by the Crown. The royal hold over
Torchwood was later demonstrated when HM Queen Elizabeth II closed down
Torchwood One after the
However, it was explicitly not "above" the government. HM
Torchwood is also to administer to the Government thereof in our name, and generally to act in our name and on our behalf, subject to such orders and regulations as Torchwood shall, from time to time, receive from us through one of our Principal Secretaries of state.The Torchwood Charter, 31 December 1879
Despite Jack's tendency to stress Torchwood's independence, Torchwood Three, at least, often complied with the spirit of the Charter. He often spoke to theBritish cabinet and to UNIT in both an advisory and operational capacity. On at least one occasion an active member of UNIT, Martha Jones, was assigned to Torchwood Three for a time, though this may have been due to the friendly relations between Martha Jones and the head of Torchwood Three, Captain Jack Harkness.
Public knowledge regarding Torchwood seemed to vary
depending upon the situation. By the 1950s, it was known by
By the early 2010s, it was known sufficiently to have the Battle of Canary Wharf called the Battle of Torchwood. However, as late as 2011 it remained unknown to aspects of the United States government and the Central Intelligence Agency.
Torchwood's origins dated back to an incident involving
the Tenth Doctor, Rose Tyler and Queen Victoria in the mid-19th century. At
Torchwood House in
She issued a royal decree establishing the Institute on 31 December 1879.
After discovering a spacetime Rift in
In 1901, Alice Guppy and Charles Gaskell dug up a future
version of Jack Harkness that had been taken from the 21st century and
buried in 27 AD
In 1906 Eliza Cooper and Robert Lewis used a machine they commissioned Professor Alexander Hugh to build to travel to another planet thousands of years into the future. Neither Cooper nor Lewis returned; the former remained on the planet while the latter was killed. Professor Hugh was returned home by the Tenth Doctor.
Torchwood was planning to use alien weaponry during World War I, but eventually decided against it.
In 1918, Torchwood Three investigated ghost sightings in
a hospital in
Circa 1919, Harriet Derbyshire, one of the investigators of the hospital sightings and in only her mid-twenties, died in action.
Harkness continued to work as an operative throughout the 20th century, For reasons unknown, he was put in charge of a group of soldiers in 1909, and in the 1920s worked undercover with a travelling circus in pursuit of the Night Travellers, though it would appear the latter mission was unsuccessful as he failed to find them for eighty years.
In 1923, thanks to a Professor Livesy-Smythe, Torchwood
found evidence that an alien race called the Pyroviles invaded Earth at
In 1924, Torchwood sent Jack Harkness to
In 1927, Jack Harkness was sent on a mission to
"The Boss" ran the overall Torchwood in the mid-20th century.
By 1953 the
In 1965 the government asked five highly ranked officers, including Jack Harkness, to give twelve children to the 456 as a gift. It was decided that the children would be taken from a Scottish orphanage as they wouldn't be missed. Despite eleven children being taken, Clem McDonald managed to escape.
Circa 1984, Torchwood bought the London-based security firm H.C. Clements.
Circa 1996, Torchwood recovered a Jathaa sunglider and reverse-engineered weaponry from it.
At the end of 1999, Harkness became the leader of Torchwood Three when one of its members, Alex Hopkins, killed the rest of the team and himself after being driven insane by an alien artefact that revealed the events of the coming years.
Over the next few years, Harkness rebuilt the Torchwood
Three team, recruiting Toshiko Sato and Owen Harper. Disapproving the ethics of
Torchwood One, Harkness told Sato of his plans to reform the organisation to
greater benevolence. Sato was sent to
On Christmas 2006, the alien Sycorax invaded Earth, using
blood control and a ship built from an asteroid which hovered over
The Tenth Doctor became involved. He explained to the then-administrator Yvonne Hartman that their experiments were weakening the barrier between dimensions, which would eventually lead to drastic problems in their own world, perhaps resulting in the collapse of their dimension. His warnings were not heeded, and the experiments continued. As a result, a massive invasion force from another dimension came through the 'hole', allowing the Earth to be conquered by the Cybermen for approximately an hour.
At the same time, the Void Ship opened, revealing a hidden cadre of four Daleks, members of the secret Cult of Skaro, come to Earth to help restore the Dalek race with a stolen piece of Time Lord technology called the Genesis Ark. They promptly killed a Torchwood technician while stealing his knowledge of current events. They saw the Cybermen as an impediment to their own return and began a war against them, despite an offer from the Cyber-Leader to form an alliance.
The 'hole' in space time created by the Void Ship also
allowed a resistance army from another dimension to cross over, initially with the
intention of stopping the Cybermen. With the advance of the Cybermen and
Daleks, a rather sudden and uneasy truce began, with Torchwood militia and the
Preachers fighting together against the Daleks and
Cybermen. This turned
With the vast majority of the Torchwood administration in
In 2008 a major event occurred with the opening of the
After a few months had passed for Torchwood Three (and about a year for Jack, who had lived through the Year That Never Was) Jack returned to Torchwood Three. Although Gwen Cooper had taken charge during his absence, Jack resumed command. Some months later, the Torchwood Three team was depleted by the deaths of two members and the survivors became involved in helping the Tenth Doctor restore the Earth to its original location after it was moved by the Daleks to the Medusa Cascade.
Perhaps due to their influence during alien invasion, by the late 2000s, Torchwood was beginning to be known by the public at large, although more by name and reputation than by actual purpose.
In 2009, the Institute was left in disarray due to an
intentional effort by the British Prime Minister Brian Green to destroy Torchwood
to prevent the revelation of previous dealings between the
After the defeat of The 456, Torchwood was left with only two surviving operatives: Jack Harkness and Gwen Cooper, the latter pregnant. Torchwood's activities immediately following the incident are unknown, but six months later Harkness, having spent an unknown amount of time travelling the world and beyond on his own, made the decision to leave Earth, leaving Cooper -- now heavily pregnant -- as the last known Torchwood operative. It was at this point that the Institute disbanded.
In 2011, during the events of Miracle Day, Jack returned to Earth, and while the Institute was no more, he and Gwen, along with several new members, formed a new team that continued to use the name "Torchwood". At one point during the crisis the team established a relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency (for whom newly recruited members Rex Matheson and Esther Drummond were agents) though Harkness resisted CIA efforts take control. Following the resolution of the crisis (which resulted in the death of two team members, including Drummond, and the apparent transformation of Matheson into an immortal like Jack). Shortly after, Jack left Earth and Rex returned to work as CIA agent, and Torchwood once again ceased to exist.
By 2012, the name (if not necessarily the function) of Torchwood was widely known to the public, to the extent that the Battle of Canary Wharf had come to be known as the "Battle of Torchwood".
It would appear that Torchwood Institute reformed or was reestablished at some point, because by the 2060s, Torchwood Three was capable of controlling the Rift.
The Torchwood Institute was known to have four offices
• Torchwood One, headquartered
• Torchwood Two, run from above a bank in
• Torchwood Three, in
• Torchwood Four, lost, but in the words of Captain Jack
Harkness, "We'll find it someday". It's believed to have been located
under a golf course in
Torchwood One also had a base under the Thames Flood Barrier and owned the security firm "H.C. Clements" used to recreate Huon particles.