Torchwood History and Mission Statement
The Institute was founded by Queen Victoria in 1879. While staying at Torchwood House, the Scottish estate of Sir Robert MacLeish, the Queen was attacked by a werewolf, in reality an alien intelligence that planned to infect her with its consciousness by biting her. The werewolf was ultimately dispatched, thanks to the efforts of the Tenth Doctor and the sacrifice of Sir Robert.
Having discovered that “Great Britain had enemies beyond imagination,” Victoria decided to establish the Torchwood Institute in memory of Sir Robert. She also decided that the Doctor was dangerous, and declared that if he ever returned, Torchwood would be waiting. The Doctor’s name was written into the Torchwood Foundation’s charter as an enemy of the Crown. Her Majesty also states in the Torchwood Charter 31 December 1879 that “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.” In 1882, Victoria expanded Torchwood’s role to include the acquisition of alien technology, creating the policy that “if it’s alien, it’s ours”. In 1888, Victoria reiterated the secrecy policy of the Torchwood Institute, protecting her subjects from the “evils that [Torchwood] fight[s]”. Not long after the foundation of the Institute, a spacetime rift was identified in Cardiff and as a result, a smaller branch of the Institute (Torchwood Three) was formed there to monitor and exploit the Rift.
Jack Harkness came to the attention of Torchwood Three in 1899, due to visiting the rift and talking about the Doctor. He was forced into working for the organization. Captured by two female Torchwood agents—Alice Guppy and Emily Holroyd, Jack was subjected to torture and interrogation regarding the Doctor before being put to work for the Institute as a freelance agent for over a century. A few years later (1901), whilst this Harkness was in Torchwood’s employ, Guppy and Charles Gaskell found and disinterred another Harkness on a different timeline, who instructs them to immediately “cryofreeze” and store him for 107 years to avoid him meeting his other self – they comply with his request.
The activities of the Torchwood Institute during the 20th century have, for the most part, has yet to be completely documented online. It is known that the organization “flourished down the decades, becoming stronger” and grew “more arrogant.” Some insights into the World War I-era organization (such as their progressive policies regarding women’s civil rights) has been noted. Torchwood Three’s progressive stance is also demonstrated, where a black Torchwood member (possibly leader) called Charles Gaskell is shown in 1901, an era of widespread racial prejudice.
Other events in the 20th century have attributable dates. At the time of the British Raj, Torchwood also maintained a branch in Delhi. This was shut down in 1924, Torchwood anticipating Indian independence; agent Jack Harkness was sent to recover all their artifacts. In 1965, agent Jack Harkness was elected on behalf of the Institute (along with representatives of different government agencies) to facilitate the sacrifice of twelve children to aliens known as the 456 to save the planet at large. In 1983, Torchwood became the sole proprietor of H.C. Clements, a security firm. Torchwood One owned a holding facility which was then abandoned in 1995. In 1996 a “Jathar Sunglider” flew into British airspace and was shot down by Torchwood. From its remains, an energy weapon was installed in London and later onto the UNIT aircraft carrier Valiant. On New Year’s Eve 1999, the then-leader of Torchwood Three (named “Alex Hopkins” by the Torchwood website) killed all the staff apart from Jack, ending with himself. He claimed that he was “saving” them, as the 21st century was when it all changed and humanity was not ready. Left in charge of Torchwood Three, Jack began severing the links with Torchwood One and their more aggressive policy on extraterrestrial life. Over the next few years, Jack recruited his own team; Suzie Costello, Toshiko Sato and Dr. Owen Harper.
By 2006, the existence of Torchwood was apparently a secret known only to the British military and police. Torchwood’s activities during the time the Third Doctor was exiled to earth (during either the 1970s or 1980s depending upon one’s point of view) have yet to be revealed. Knowledge of Torchwood was supposedly kept even from Prime Minister Harriet Jones and the UN. However, Jones did know about its existence anyway, and ordered Major Richard Blake of UNIT to prepare Torchwood for the impending arrival of the Sycorax on Christmas Day. On the command of Prime Minister Harriet Jones, Torchwood used the Jathar Sunglider weapon to destroy a Sycorax ship on Christmas Day 2006.