The Torchwood Institute is a secret organisation founded by Queen Victoria in the year 1879 to research and combat alien threats to the United Kingdom and use their findings to make the British Empire great again. To those ends, it acquires and reverse engineers alien technology by any means deemed necessary, according to its director Yvonne Hartman. Its nationalist attitude extends to refusing to use metric units. While described as beyond the UN, they are known to cooperate with UNIT to some extent. There appears, at present, to be some sort of rapport with the prime minister of the UK, although historically this may not always have been the case. To those that have come in contact with Torchwood, they are primarily believed to be a special forces team. They appear to maintain this illusion by using false witnesses and via the use of memory altering drugs following a major incident involving the institute. The stance of the organisation becomes much less confrontational and secretive.
While staying at Torchwood house, the Scottish estate of Sir Robert MacLeish, Queen Victoria 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 dispelled, thanks to the efforts of the 10th Doctor and the sacrifice of Sir Robert. Having discovered that the UK 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 in 1882. Victoria expanded Torchwood's role to include the acquisition of alien technology, creating the policy that if it is alien, then it is ours. In 1888, Victoria reiterated the secrecy policy of the Torchwood Institute, protecting her subjects from the evils that Torchwood fights. Not long after the foundation of the Institute, a space-time rift was identified in Cardiff, and as a result, a smaller branch of the Institute was formed there to monitor and exploit the rift.
The activities of the Torchwood Institute during the 20th century have not yet been revealed. It is known that the organisation flourished down the decades, becoming stronger, and grew more arrogant. Whilst the organisation was public enough in 1953, 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 3rd Doctor was exiled to Earth have yet to be revealed. Knowledge of torchwood was supposedly kept even from the prime minister 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 in 1983.
Torchwood became the sole proprietor of H. C. Clements, a security firm, while 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 on Jones' command. Torchwood used the weapon to destroy a Sycorax ship on Christmas day, 2006.
At this time, Torchwood operated software which blocked access to internet searches about UFO activity. Torchwood Tower, known publicly as Canary Wharf Tower, had been built to reach a spatial breach 660 feet above sea level. Unbeknownst to Torchwood, the breach had been caused by the entrance into the universe of a void ship, a vessel designed to travel through the void between parallel universes. Torchwood had been conducting experiments on the breach in an attempt to harness its energy and reduce Britain's reliance on Middle Eastern oil, but these experiments caused the breach to widen. The ghosts appearing during use of the breach turned out to be Cybermen from an alternate universe which were using the widening breach to travel between universes. A small advance force of Cybermen infiltrated Torchwood, upgrading or subverting Torchwood personnel before eventually seizing control and opening the breach wide enough for ghost like creatures around the world to manifest fully as millions of Cybermen.
However, the void ship had nothing to do with the Cybermen and had in fact been created by the Daleks, four of whom had used it to escape the Time War. Caught between warring Daleks and Cybermen, many Torchwood workers were either killed or upgraded by the Cybermen--including Hartman herself-- although she retained some semblance of her identity. It is known that in the wake of these events, referred to as the Battle of Canary Wharf, the Institute feels it must learn by heart a lesson about its own arrogance. It was later revealed that the London branch of Torchwood, referred to as Torchwood One, lost 796 members of staff and was ultimately ordered to close by Queen Elizabeth II.
The London-based security firm H. C. Clements was a front company for the Torchwood Institute on a restricted basement level of the company. Situated beneath the Thames barrier was a secret laboratory which the Institute used to recreate ancient Huon particles over a period of months. H. C. Clements human resources manager Lance Bennett had courted and poisoned a temp, Donna Noble, with huon particles, intending to sacrifice her to the empress of the Racnoss. It would appear that Lance was not acting on behalf of the Institute, and the lab was in disuse since the Battle of Canary Wharf, and the Queen's official closure of Torchwood One.
With Torchwood One gone, less than 10 staff remain between Wales and Scotland. Captain Jack Harkness mentions that he rebuilt the Institute in the Doctor's honour with a new regime and a less aggressive stance. Outside the Institute's small workforce, journalists such as Vivien Rook of the Sunday Mirror investigate controversial figures such as Mr. Saxon on behalf of the Institute. Saxon sent Torchwood Three on a wild goose chase to the Himalayas to prevent them from helping Jack or the Doctor.
In 2012, Torchwood is public enough to be mentioned in a TV broadcast during the 2012 summer Olympics. By the 22nd century, the great cobalt pyramid has been built on the ruins of the Torchwood Institute, most likely Canary Wharf. Furthermore, a big brother contestant of that era is described as working at a telephone, but his home is described as Torchwood, implying that in the future it has also possibly become a city state or nation of some sort.
In the distant future, the Torchwood archives sent a group of explorers to investigate a mysterious power source that kept a planet in stable orbit around a black hole. It is public enough for a survey carried out by it to be reported in a news item, and for someone to be publicly asked about their work there. Prior to Army of Ghosts, a group led by Pete Tyler and including Jake Simmonds and Mickey Smith, who worked for the alternate world's people's republic, took over the parallel earth Torchwood. The parallel earth Torchwood had also been conducting experiments on the spatial breach, which led to it being infiltrated by the Cybermen who used the breach to travel to Rose's universe. Rose Tyler, confined to the alternate world, goes on to work for the reformed organisation.
Divisions of Torchwood
Torchwood One: London
Torchwood One was Torchwood's head office and operated out of Torchwood Tower, located within one Canada Square. It was the tallest of the three Canary Wharf skyscrapers. Although it carried out operations across London, including beneath the Thames barrier and through front organisations such as H. C. Clements, the beam which destroyed the Sycorax ship was fired from several locations around London, suggesting a number of properties are owned by Torchwood One in the area. The tower installations were destroyed during the events of the Battle of Canary Wharf. There were 823 members of staff, of which only 27 were known to have survived. In the wake of the battle, Elizabeth II ordered the immediate closure of Torchwood One.
Torchwood Two: Glasgow
All that is known about the Glasgow division is that what is described as a very strange man works there and that it is presumably active.
Torchwood Three: Cardiff
Torchwood Three, also known as the Torchwood Hub, primarily serves as a monitoring station for the Cardiff space-time rift. Whereas the London branch staffed hundreds of individuals, the Cardiff branch is considerably smaller and only staffs a small team of experts hired by Captain Jack and described as a renegade outpost. It is located beneath Roald Dahl Plass and may be entered via an invisible lift in the plass or through a run-down tourist information centre nearby.
Torchwood Three was destroyed by the British Government in 2009 in fear of their knowledge of the government's dealings with the 456.
Torchwood Four: Location Unknown
Torchwood Four is described as missing. It is not specified how this happened, or where it may previously have been located before its disappearance.
Torchwood Five: Osaka, Japan
Established after World War II as part of the reconstruction efforts. Much alien tech was funneled into Japanese factories and fab plants, explaining the sudden rise in high-tech goods.
Records damaged, please inform the administrator of this database. Considered Defunct after their defeat by the Cybermen in 2008. given how long it took them to deal with one simple cyber-factory, Torchwood Hong Kong believes there was a traitor in the group who sold the organization out to the Cybermen, making it impossible for them to score a decisive victory.
(Note the traitor is NOT a character seen in the chatbox prior, it is a totally new character).
Torchwood Six: Hong Kong
The operatives of this Torchwood outpost were killed after the abject failure of Torchwood Osaka to contain the relatively small Cyber-threat there.
Responding to the threat of the Cybermen in Osaka, all the Torchwood Hong Kong members sortied to Japan, only to be massacred by an unknown force after successfully defeating the Cybermen. Only two survivors, who had been delayed in reaching Osaka, survived, erroneously believing the Cybermen to be cause of their compatriots' death.
Fighting on their own with only scattered resources of the old Torchwood organisation to help them, they are Marcus Deadman and his partner, Irene.
Irene was later killed in the Nonary Game, leaving Marcus the only survivor.
Taking on the staff of the now defunct Dinsdale Investigations, Marcus Deadman has established a new branch of Torchwood, simply referred to as "Torchwood Seven" in the old network of Bunkers and tunnels established under the city by Solarchos, converting them into new research and containment facilities. The headquarters proper of the unit is under Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo. After Solarchos' return, the Torchwood network was relocated to abandoned subway tunnels. As most of the Dinsdale staff have left the organization, Deadman carries on his work alone.