Magazine article American Jails

Rails and Jails in Scotland

Magazine article American Jails

Rails and Jails in Scotland

Article excerpt

I am a member of the Scottish Railway Preservation Society (SRPS) located in Bo'ness, Scotland. The SRPS exists to preserve historical Scottish railway items, and operates the Scottish Railway Museum. It has charitable status and is run largely by volunteer labour.

Being concerned that various irreplaceable railway artefacts in the care of the society were deteriorating because of lack of labour to conserve them, I recently contacted Her Majesty's Prison Service with a view to initiating a joint project to have prison inmates undertake some of the restoration work on these items within the prison workshops.

Three local prisons were contacted and representatives of these duly visited Bo'ness to discuss possibilities. All were enthusiastic about the idea, but HMP Edinburgh was the first prison which committed to repairing and restoring some of our railway relics. The basic understanding between HMP and ourselves is that both parties will undertake alternate pick-up/delivery of SRPS items to/from HMP Edinburgh, about half an hour 's drive away. HMP will provide labour and skills to restore our artefacts, while SRPS will supply and deliver to the prison any needed materials for these projects.

I had been hopeful that the nearby HMP Polmont, which incarcerates young offenders, might have supplied us with small, supervised work parties to help with railway general maintenance work such as scrub clearance, fence painting, track re-sleepering, etc; but this former practice of external work parties has been discontinued by the prison service. Also, disappointingly, there was resistance within some quarters of SRPS to the idea of prisoners being allowed around the railway premises for fear of pilfering.

HMP Edinburgh initially took away two large railway coach bellows ends, and several severely decayed wooden platform barrows for restoration. …

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