Thursday, 10 January 2013

Shrewsbury's House of Correction - A Short History

In 1877 the present Shrewsbury Gaol was built by Thomas Telford on the site of the 1793 prison which had been masterminded by the great prison reformer, John Howard.  This is something I have some slight knowledge of because my house is a part of the old prison [once known as the House of Correction] whose shocking conditions Howard was so keen to replace.  In fact, my property includes some worn stone steps down which prisoners were taken  to be incarcerated in its cells.

Between 1902 and 1961, according to that infallible source of knowledge, Wikepedia, seven people were executed for murder in Shrewsbury Prison - or the Dana as it was by then known.  In almost every case, the murder victim was a woman.  The executed prisoners were buried within the prison walls in unmarked graves.  The four executions conducted during the 1950s were all presided over by that famous hangman, Albert Pierrepoint.

Shrewsbury Prison is now a Grade II Listed Building.  It was originally designed to hold 170 prisoners. Ironically, given the reforming zeal of the man who founded it, it has recently become recognised as one of the most - if not the most - overcrowded prisons in the land.

But not for much longer.  How could My Tonight From Shrewsbury not rush to bring you the breaking news, reported nationally, that Shrewsbury Prison is to close on March 31st, the prisoners to be 'located and looked after elsewhere'  and up to 190 staff to face the likelihood of losing their jobs if not deployed elsewhere.

The end of an era for Shrewsbury, and the end of an era for its staff. English Heritage says that the building's future is one ultimately for its owners, but it hopes that 'a new and sustainable use will be found'.  A new home for Shrewsbury's Town Council?  Hmmm. Tonight from Shrewsbury watch this space.  


  1. Most interesting. Great looking building, it would be a shame if they don't find a use for it.

  2. There's too much history attached to the place not to do something. I would have thought at least they'd have to preserve the Georgian parts. Weird to think it was once state-of-the-art. I walk past it every day with my dog, but have to say I've never been inside!