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Torchwood One was the base of operations of the Torchwood Institute in London. It was significantly larger than its satellite branches, Torchwood Two, Three and Four. It was also the home base of Administrator Yvonne Hartman and thus headquarters of Torchwood administration.
The main base at Torchwood Tower was destroyed in 2007 in the Battle of Canary Wharf, which effectively meant the end of the London branch, though the Cardiff and Glasgow branches continued to operate.
Torchwood One evidently existed at least by 1889, when agents Eliza Cooper and Robert Lewis attempted to capture the Tenth Doctor when they realised he had been stranded in London. They came across H. G. Wells, and interrogated him about the Doctor. Wells led them to the TARDIS, which disappeared, apparently leaving the Doctor behind for them to arrest. (COMIC: The Time Machination) The man was found not to be the Doctor when he was dissected. (COMIC: Final Sacrifice)
In 1899, Jack Harkness temporarily worked with Torchwood One, which was then based at the National History Museum. On 17 May, an alien creature escaped and proceeded to feed on the youth of Londoners starting with Torchwood London director, Archie, who was left permanently incapacitated as he was rapidly aged, at the same time Torchwood was visited by Queen Victoria for her annual inspection of the Institute, resulting in Jack sharing an adventure with the Queen as she took to pursuing the creature. After Victoria killed the creature by exploiting its weakness against the elderly, both she and Jack declined their offers to each other to take command of Torchwood London, with the Queen retiring from public life while Jack returned to Torchwood Cardiff. (AUDIO: The Victorian Age)
In 1953, the Metropolitan Police feared that Torchwood might become involved while investigating strange occurrences provoked by the activities of an alien entity known as the Wire. (TV: The Idiot's Lantern) At the time, Norton Folgate was a member of Torchwood One. (AUDIO: Ghost Mission, Outbreak)
Some time later, Norton was suspected by the Vicar - the head of Torchwood - of selling alien weaponry to gangsters. He was permitted to summon a Torchwood assessor to help clear his name and selected Andy. His plan resulted in the death of the Vicar and the gangster Fat Kim, clearing his name and leaving a space at the top of Torchwood to be filled. (AUDIO: Goodbye Piccadilly)
By 2006, Torchwood had managed to reverse-engineer the weapons system of the sunglider and were ordered by Prime Minister Harriet Jones to use it against the Sycorax spaceship that invaded Earth on Christmas Day despite the fact that the ship was retreating. (TV: The Christmas Invasion)
Torchwood experimented with tapping into the resonance around this anomaly, believing it could provide massive amounts of what they believed was free energy. In reality they were slowly breaching the barrier between their universe and another one. Cybermen from that universe partially manifested themselves in their universe in what became called "ghost shifts", with the appearance of millions of ghostly humanoid figures that seemed to glow with an unearthly light. After a while the experiments also resulted in the appearance of a Void Ship, a large golden sphere of obviously alien design registering no mass, no energy, no physical data whatsoever. (TV: Army of Ghosts)
Ultimately this research led to the downfall of Torchwood One. In July [additional sources needed] 2007, a cadre of Daleks was revealed to be inside the Void Ship, and Cybermen from the parallel universe entered their universe. The Daleks and Cybermen immediately began to fight in what became known as Battle of Canary Wharf. Torchwood Tower itself was the main battleground, and the fighting did not stop until the Doctor found a way to intervene, reversing Torchwood's power machinery and sending the Daleks and Cybermen into the Void. (TV: Doomsday)
Floors and Departments
Being a skyscraper, Torchwood One was the hub of the Torchwood Institute. The director usually took office on the top floor, which overlooked London. The building also housed its own restaurant, which Yvonne Hartman recommended personally. By 2005, the twenty-sixth floor housed Pippa, the head of Personnel, who used her ability to read people to thoroughly interview a newcomer.
Floor thirty-two was home to Security, lead by Kieran Frost. It wasn't unusual for Kieran to run secret tests on newcomers by putting them into a scenario and seeing if they notice unusual things happening. Other members of staff viewed this is as soft bullying. (AUDIO: New Girl)
Though Torchwood One ceased to exist in 2007, other branches continued to operate semi-independently, and at least one survivor transferred to another branch. Dogon Sixth Eyes, previously stored at Torchwood, found their way onto eBay and quickly became a valued item by alien artefact collectors. (TV: Random Shoes) A secondary Torchwood base under the River Thames home to experiments with Huon particles was abandoned after the incident. This base also dug to the centre of the Earth with a laser drill and drew in the Empress of the Racnoss as they exposed the Secret Heart at the core of the Earth. The Empress tried to release the Racnoss trapped in the ship, but the Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble stopped her. (TV: The Runaway Bride, AUDIO: In the Shadows)
Due to Torchwood's acts of unnecessary brutality against aliens under Torchwood One's regime and the consequences that the London branch's inconsiderate greed had wrought, the Doctor and Jack Harkness both looked back at the posthumous Torchwood One with disgust and disdain. The Tenth Doctor was initially disgusted to learn that Jack was part of Torchwood due to "everything Torchwood did," and the Doctor would later negatively comment in regards to a suggestion made by Jack to break the Master's neck, "Now that sounds like Torchwood". (TV: The Sound of Drums) After Torchwood One's destruction, Jack had, aside from having the technology scavenged, intended to "sever all ties" with the old regime, and Ianto's original work with Torchwood One had been part of the reason Jack had initially refused to let him have anything to do with the Cardiff branch. (TV: Fragments)
Administrators and staff
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During the early 2000s, Yvonne Hartman was Torchwood One's administrator. In 2007, during the Battle of Canary Wharf, she was converted into a Cyberman and, later, sucked into the Void. (TV: Army of Ghosts / Doomsday) However, following these events, a parallel version of Yvonne Hartman was still active within Cardiff and had even taken charge off Torchwood Three for a period of time. (AUDIO: Poker Face)
- Norton Folgate (1950s)
- Rachel Allan (personal assistant to Thomas, briefly became administrator in 2005 after Yvonne Hartman was framed for a murder). (AUDIO: New Girl et al)
- Doctor Rajesh Singh (researcher, deceased in the Battle of Canary Wharf). The Cult of Skaro scanned his brain waves, killing him due to the force.
- Kieran Frost (head of security in 2005)
- Adeola Oshodi (deceased 2007). Died in a cyber-brain transplant when the Tenth Doctor destroyed it. Cousin of Martha Jones.
- Matt Crane (deceased 2007). Died in a cyber-brain transplant when the Tenth Doctor destroyed it.
- Gareth Evans (deceased 2007). Died in a cyber-brain transplant when the Tenth Doctor destroyed it.
- Ianto Jones (junior researcher, deceased 2009). Worked at Torchwood One from March 2005. Transferred to Torchwood Three, died after the 456 infected him with a virus.
- Lisa Hallett (deceased 2007). Partially cyberconverted, shot to death by Torchwood Three
- Samuel later revealed as Mickey Smith (infiltrator from a parallel universe)
- Dean (personal assistant and brief partner of Kieran Frost, deceased in 2005 following a hijacked transmat experiment)
- Sebastian (soldier, deceased in the Battle of Canary Wharf)
- Carlie Roberts (biologist) (AUDIO: Submission)
- Rupert Howarth (mentor) (COMIC: The Legacy of Torchwood One!)
- Josephine (active in 1899) (AUDIO: The Victorian Age)
- Stephen Heinz
Behind the scenes
The series 1 version of the Torchwood website had a report on the Dogon sixth eye by Owen Harper. It mentioned that "a couple of years ago", a Dogon ship crashed into the Humber, and Torchwood One had dissected the crew to "investigate" them. In an email between Rajesh Singh and Yvonne Hartman, Rajesh noted that while his assistant, Craig, was cleaning one of the crew's eyes, he "was literally collapsed on the floor, crying with laughter". After having the eye removed from him, Craig explained what was had happened — the eye put all of his problems into perspective.
Owen noted that after the destruction of Torchwood One, "a whole bunch of these eyes" appeared on eBay. 
On the series 1 version of the Torchwood website, a case file outlined the fall of Torchwood One. It said that of 823 people staff, there were 27 survivors. 467 were confirmed dead, while the rest were reported missing. It suggested after a massive loss in life and technology, that it was recommended to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for "the immediate closure of Torchwood One, together with the formation of a steering committee to fully examine future options."