Queen Victoria (founder)

Yvonne Hartman (director, ending 2007)

Jack Harkness (Torchwood Three, later de facto director circa 2007)

Archie (Torchwood Two)

Eleanor, Duchess of Melrose (Torchwood India)


The Torchwood Institute (or "Torchwood" for short) was an organisation founded in 1879 (TV: The New World) to protect the British Empire (later Great Britain) from extraterrestrial threat, to capture the Doctor (whom Queen Victoria regarded as such) in his tenth incarnation and to secure alien technology for Britain.


It had branches across the Empire. Before 2007, the leading branch was Torchwood One in London. After the Battle of Canary Wharf, leadership moved to Torchwood Three in Cardiff, which already had a more ecumenical agenda of protecting the world since Captain Jack Harkness had taken over in 2000.


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.


Queen Victoria was grateful for the Tenth Doctor and Rose's assistance in defeating the werewolf. The incident made her aware of otherworldly threats to the British Empire, and she chartered Torchwood to defend against them -- specifically the Doctor. Seeing his power and knowledge, the Queen was wary of his potential threat to the Empire. The name of the Institute was drawn from the Torchwood Estate, where most of the adventure took place.


Over time, the Institute accumulated much alien technology, reverse-engineering it and applying it to secret military projects within Britain. Within Torchwood an unofficial slogan evolved: "If it's alien, it's ours." Under Yvonne Hartman, one of the objectives of Torchwood was to at some point re-establish the British Empire.


Hiding out in the open in Canary Wharf was Torchwood Tower, built to better access a weak point in spacetime. The Torchwood Tower was only part of a much larger plan involving free energy that backfired horribly and resulted in the deaths of many. This cell of the Institute was abandoned afterwards.  

Torchwood operated in cells. London was Torchwood One, and Cardiff was home to Torchwood Three, the maverick group led by Capt. Jack Harkness. At least two other Torchwood cells were known: Torchwood Two, based in Glasgow, Scotland, and a Torchwood Four, the nature of which was unknown except that it had some how gotten "lost". Torchwood India was based in India and led by the Duchess of Melrose. It was disbanded in 1924, but later continued until 2009.


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 Battle of Canary Wharf.


However, it was explicitly not "above" the government. HM Queen Victoria ordered:


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 London police; by the late 2000s, the name was known by the general public, and it could be cited with authority in much the way terms like FBI or Homeland Security (or UNIT) were used. People were aware of the general location of Torchwood Three headquarters by Cardiff Bay.

 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 Scotland, a monastic group called the brethren stored a Werewolf, which menanced the countryside and the Queen. With the monarch's assistance, the Doctor and Rose killed the werewolf. Victoria knighted them for their service, then banished them from the kingdom, declaring the Doctor in particular a threat to the Empire. Now aware of the reality of alien/supernatural life forms, Victoria ordered an organisation be created to protect the British Empire from the Doctor and threats such as the werewolf. She named the organisation the Torchwood Institute, after the location of the werewolf encounter.

She issued a royal decree establishing the Institute on 31 December 1879.


After discovering a spacetime Rift in Cardiff, Queen Victoria founded a third branch of Torchwood (after the first and second in London and Scotland), Torchwood Three. In 1899 Cardiff, Jack Harkness was recruited by two of this branch's operatives, Alice Guppy and Emily Holroyd as a freelance agent of the Institute. His first mission was to apprehend an intelligent blowfish alien; he succeeded, but was greatly disturbed when Guppy summarily executed the creature before his eyes. He continued to work for Torchwood largely against his will, having been told by a fortune-telling tarot card reader that he would have to wait more than a century before seeing the Doctor again. Meanwhile, he needed money to live. He continued to work for the organisation over the decades that followed, although he remained disturbed by the Institute's callous disregard for alien life forms. At some point, Victoria also established Torchwood India to collect all things alien in the British Raj.


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 Cardiff. He told them to freeze him in the cryo-chambers so he could defeat his brother Gray. Subsequently, Jack's future self resided in the cryo-chambers even as his younger self continued to work nearby. Guppy reportedly died sometime thereafter.


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 Cardiff. As present and future blended, they caught glimpses of 2009. At this time they had a team of five, the leader being a man called Gerald Carter and, based on a photo, were very possibly already based out of the Hub. They already had equipment capable of detecting disturbances in time.


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 Pompeii in 79 AD.


In 1924, Torchwood sent Jack Harkness to India to close down the branch there before the fall of the Raj.


In 1927, Jack Harkness was sent on a mission to New York City in order to thwart a plot by the Trickster's Brigade to infect Franklin Delano Roosevelt with a Brain parasite and change the course of history. With assistance from his lover Angelo Colasanto, Harkness succeeded in eliminating the parasite.


"The Boss" ran the overall Torchwood in the mid-20th century.


By 1953 the London branch was influential enough that London Police feared its involvement when investigating the strange occurrences provoked by the activities of an alien entity known as The Wire.


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 London to investigate the alien lifeform recovered from a crashed spacecraft.


On Christmas 2006, the alien Sycorax invaded Earth, using blood control and a ship built from an asteroid which hovered over London. Torchwood had developed a weapon for just such a contingency, based on alien technology scavenged from a Jathaa sun glider. At the same time, in Torchwood Tower, the Institute examined the Void Ship (though they did not call it by that name), an obviously alien artefact they struggled to understand; it was discovered that tapping into the resonance around it produced massive amounts of what seemed to be free energy. A side-effect of these experiments was the appearance of millions of "ghosts" all over the world: humanoid figures that glowed with an unearthly light.


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 Torchwood Tower into a battleground,. The fighting did not end until the Doctor found a way to reverse Torchwood's power machinery and send the Daleks and Cybermen into the Void. Rose Tyler was recruited by the version of Torchwood that existed on the parallel Earth nicknamed Pete's World, having been trapped there after the reversal sealed the gap between Normal Space and Pete's World.


With the vast majority of the Torchwood administration in London killed or 'upgraded' by the Cybermen, the organisation was crippled. Jack Harkness worked to reform the remainder of Torchwood into a more humane organisation, recruiting Canary Wharf survivor Ianto Jones and other members.


In 2008 a major event occurred with the opening of the Cardiff rift, resulting in massive temporal displacements and the release of the demon Abaddon. Shortly after team leader Captain Jack Harkness mysteriously disappeared. Subsequently, The Master under the guise of Harold Saxon, sent the crew of Torchwood Three on a wild goose chase in the Himalayas to look for him, but actually, the Master just wanted them out of the way.


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 UK and the alien race known as The 456, in which Harkness had been involved. The Cardiff Hub was destroyed by a paramilitary unit headed by Agent Johnson, and attempts were made on the lives of the surviving members of Torchwood Three. The fate of Torchwood Two is unclear, but files held by the British government indicated it had been disbanded.


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.



Torchwood Branches


The Torchwood Institute was known to have four offices across Britain and an international branch. In 2007, Torchwood One was lost. By 2009, Two and Three and had also ceased operations. Torchwood Four ceased operations, by virtue of disappearance, at an earlier time. From 2011, the Institute's two surviving Torchwood agents simply represented "Torchwood". As fugitives, or self-styled "freedom fighters", the name Torchwood was simply a word which connected its team members.

Torchwood One, headquartered Canary Wharf, destroyed during the battle with the Cybermen, and consequently abandoned. Last director was Yvonne Hartman. Had properties and bases across London.

Torchwood Two, run from above a bank in Glasgow by a "very strange man" called Archie. Closed down prior to summer 2009.

Torchwood Three, in Cardiff, set above the Cardiff rift. Lead by Captain Jack Harkness since 2000. Cardiff headquarters destroyed on orders of the UK government circa 2009. After the defeat of The 456, Torchwood Three ceased, though two of its members continued operations.

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 Inverness

Torchwood India, operating in Delhi to collect all artefacts in the Raj. Closed in 1924 by Captain Jack Harkness, though the facility, and some of its members, continued to survive, unageing due to an alien artefact, until 2009. 


Torchwood One also had a base under the Thames Flood Barrier and owned the security firm "H.C. Clements" used to recreate Huon particles.