Posted by: travelrat | January 26, 2015

Ruthin Gaol

Ruthin Gaol 1_copy

Ruthin: 25th September 2014.

This blogtrip will probably go down in history as the first one where we all finished up in the nick! We had to return to Ruthin to pick our cars up, but first lunch … and, before that, a visit to Ruthin Gaol.

(A note here: ‘gaol’ is pronounced ‘jail’, and is one of the few instances where English and American spellings are used interchangeably, usually without comment)

However, it hasn’t been used to house bad lads (or lasses) since 1916, since when it’s been a munitions factory, and is now home to the Denbighshire Archives Service.

It’s the only ‘Pentonville-style’ prison open to the public, and, looking at the part that now houses the Archives, you can just imagine the clashing of mugs as ‘Mr. Bridger’ makes his triumphant way through the prison in ‘The Italian Job’.

Ruthin Gaol_copy

There are many exhibits showing what life was like for prisoners in the olden days; there were facilities for all kinds of punishments for wrongdoers … even (we didn’t see them!) facilities for criminals who merited the ‘short walk and long drop’.

The ‘Pentonville Part’ was built in the 1860s; the older part dates from 1774, when local magistrates called for it to be built ‘in compassion for the unfortunate’ … they described the previous chokey, dating from 1654, as being in a ‘miserable state’. So, even as early as that, some attention was being paid to prison reform … predating the work of most major reformers by about 40 years.

Ruthin Gaol 2_copy

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