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Warwick Prison, Cape Road, Warwick

Warwick Prison was built at the north end of what is now Cape Road in 1860, to replace the existing Bridewell and Warwick Gaol in Barrack Street.

It closed for the reception of new prisoners in 1916 during the First World War[1], with the last visitors report being recorded in 1917[2]. It was subsequently demolished in 1934.[3]

The residential streets of Landor Road and Hanworth Road had been established in its place by 1938.

Building Layout

The Prison was built on a rectangular site of 10 acres, to the east of Cape Road. A wall of blue engineering brick surrounded the site, with a frontage to Cape Road of approximately 875 feet. The main entrance was situated at the centre of the wall on Cape Road. To its left was the Governors House (still standing) and to the right, built as a mirror was the Chaplain's House.[4]

The prison was used to accomodate around 500 prisoners and had buildings including:[5]

  • Central Block with 4 wings
  • Female Block
  • Reformatory Block
  • Kitchen Block
  • Laundry
  • Hospital
  • Workroom
  • Mortuary
  • Pump House
  • Main Entrance with two Wardens' Quarters
  • Governor's House
  • Chaplain's House
  • Cottage and Stables
  • A number of small store buildings

    The main buildings were built of blue brick with stone facings, mainly set in lime and mortar. They included lead ridges, gutters and slate roofs.[6]

    Surrounding the outer wall was a an open iron fence, between which at a width of between 20 and 30 feet were 29 allotments, which were leased to cottagers in the surrounding area. The annual rent for these prior to 1933 was 5 0s. 4d. Three telegraph poles ran across the allotments, belonging to The Post Office.[7]

    Gas was supplied by the Warwick Gas Company and mains water by the Warwick Corporation. Drainage was lain across Saltisford Common to connect with drains belonging to the Corporation.[8]

    The Prison comprised 309 cells, 4 day rooms and 2 yards for criminals, 43 sleeping rooms, 4 yards and 5 day rooms for debtors.[9]

    It included carpenters, paint, fitters, tin and blacksmiths shops. Prisoners were also used for the chopping/cutting of wood, sewing of mailbags and breaking of rocks for road building.[10]

    As was the case at the former Warwick Gaol on Barrack Street,[11] the prison at The Cape also included a treadmill, which was used for pumping water for prison use.[12] It is not marked on the 1933 groundfloor plan of the prison, however there is a building to the south of the southeast wing marked Pump House.[13]

    J Mancini's Memoirs

    J. Mancini, who worked on the site cleaning bricks (at around 1 per thousand) recalls in his memoirs of 1932 the following information about the demolition and life at the prison prior:[14]

  • During the demolition the site was open to the public for sightseeing.
  • A close friend, Hobby Parsons, had had the job of exhuming bodies of criminals who had been hung
  • The bodies were then moved to a cemetry in Coventry.
  • The prison had included a Treadmill, which was used to pump water for Prison use.
  • The CENTRE was a round stanchion, with rings in the brickwork, for securing the hands and feet of a prisoner to receive the Cat O' Nine Tails.
  • The Condemed Cell and Last Hour Cell were still standing, a few steps away from the Scaffold Drop, which had been filled in and bricked over.
  • The main gates were to the left of the Governors House
  • The prison had also been used for confining conscientious objectors and "uncontrollable girls"
  • A Dance Band had played for the inmates on two or three occasions

    The location of the graveyard is not stated, nor is it, along with the Scaffold Drop, Condemed and Last Hour Cells shown on the 1933 plan of the site.

    Sale and demolition

    The prison can be found on 1889, 1905, 1925 and 1926 Ordnance Survey maps, marked "His Majesty's Prison".

    The site was put up for sale in 1933, with sale papers of January 1933 suggesting it as being suitable as a school, institution or building estate. At the time several of the buildings were still in use by the Board of Control for female patients and staff, who were due to vacate in July or August of that year. The cottage at the northern corner was let at 12s. 6d per week to Mr William Woodfield.[15]

    Following its demolition in 1934 the 1938 Ordnance Survey Map shows Hanworth Road and Landor Road having been established within its boundary (which itself is still marked).

    Other than the Governors House which stood directly to the left side of the main gate and former dairy (now 181 Cape Road) at the northeast boundary no other buildings from the prison remain. Residential housing has been built in its place, some of which can be seen on the 1938 map.

    Site Today



    External Links

    Photographs

  • 1906: Inside of Warwick Prison
  • 1906: Inside of cell at Warwick Prison
  • 1906: Warwick Prison Kitchens
  • 1906: Prisoners sawing wood
  • 1906: Prisoners making ropes and mailbags
  • 1910: Inside of Warwick Prison
  • 1910: Inside of Warwick Prison
  • 1910: Governor and Staff of Warwick Prison
  • 1910: Exterior of Warwick Prison
  • 1910: View of a cell at Warwick Prison

  • Further Reading

    Year    AuthorTitlePublisherISBNAvailability
    1906 David Watson  Warwick Prison of Today  
    ?  n/a  Warwick County Record Office
    1932 J. Mancini  Memoirs of J. Mancini of Warwick about demolition of prison  
    Two page hand written account
    ?  n/a  Warwick County Record Office (Z668)

    References

    1: Closing of Warwick Prison during the War; notification from the Home Office, 23rd May, 1916. QS/24/i/613 1916
    2: National Archives: Warwickshire Quarter Sessions Records QS/1 - QS/24: County Prisons QS/2/1
    3: 1934 Photograph showing demolition of Warwick Prison: Windows On Warwickshire
    4: Page 1, including a photograph of the Main Gates and Chaplain's House, from "Warwick Prison: For Sale By Private Treaty". January 1933. Warwick County Record Office.
    5: Page 2 of "Warwick Prison: For Sale By Private Treaty". January 1933. Warwick County Record Office.
    6: Page 2 of "Warwick Prison: For Sale By Private Treaty". January 1933. Warwick County Record Office.
    7: Page 3 of "Warwick Prison: For Sale By Private Treaty". January 1933. Warwick County Record Office.
    8: Page 3 of "Warwick Prison: For Sale By Private Treaty". January 1933. Warwick County Record Office.
    9: Warwick in Times Past. P.J.E. Gates. Page 24.
    10: Warwick in Times Past. P.J.E. Gates. Page 25.
    11: Plans of Gaol, House of Correction, Militia Barracks, etc. c. 1859. County Records Office ref CR765
    12: Memoirs of J Mancini on Warwick Prison. A photocopy is held at Warwick County Records Office.
    13: 1933 Groundfloor Plan of Warwick Prison. Included within "Warwick Prison: For Sale By Private Treaty", held at Warwick County Record Office.
    14: Memoirs of J Mancini on Warwick Prison. A photocopy is held at Warwick County Records Office.
    15: "Warwick Prison: For Sale By Private Treaty". January 1933. Warwick County Record Office.

    Categories: Prisons in Warwick
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