Flash Back: Inside Story; the Times of Your Lives . . . Every Saturday in Your ECHO Tony Barrett Takes a Look Back at the History of Liverpool Prison

Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England), October 22, 2005 | Go to article overview

Flash Back: Inside Story; the Times of Your Lives . . . Every Saturday in Your ECHO Tony Barrett Takes a Look Back at the History of Liverpool Prison


Byline: Tony Barrett

MENTION the name Walton to people the length and breadth of the UK and the first thing they will call to mind is Liverpool's very own prison, sited on Hornby Road. But, despite being such a wellknown establishment and a part of Merseyside life for more than 150 years, only those who have been inside Her Majesty's Prison Liverpool can truly claim to know what it is like.

With its imposing securitywalls and steel gates, Walton is as impenetrable as it is mysterious to all but those who have been detained at Her Majesty's pleasure and, of course, those who have been employed there. For the people of Walton, however, it is as much a part of theircommunity as Walton Hall Park. And for outsiders, it is almost impossible to speak of the place without also mentioning "the jug" - the prison's nickname The ECHO picture archives are packed with photographs of the jail, some of which were taken as far back as the opening decades of the 20th century.

As well as featuring the usual general view shots, there are also scores of pictures detailing Walton jail's place in Liverpool's history.

From prisoners on the roof protesting about conditions to inmates carrying out their daily chores, these images provide an insight into the prison's past.

Constructed between 1850 and 1854, Walton was Liverpool's second major prison and was built to house the overflow of prisoners from the increasingly overcrowded Kirkdale Gaol.

Designed by renowned architects Charles Peirce and J.Weightman, Walton was the most modern in the country at the time and was built on the then fashionable Panopticon (radial) principle.

But not everything about the establishment was forward thinking. Although it housed both men and women and had room for around 1000 inmates, there were no facilities for education or rehabilitation.

This was very much a place where criminals were left to serve out their time in the most severe austerity.

Only the back-breaking daily prison work kept inmates from absolute boredom, with confinement being the order of the day.

Of course, over the years these attitudes have changed greatly with the advent of exercise yards, workshops, prison libraries and, more recently, IT suites to ensure rehabilitation is as much a part of the overall prison experience as time spent locked in a cell.

Architecturally, there are certain aspects of modern day HMP Liverpool which were originally put in place when it was first built a little over 150 years ago. …

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