Friday, December 3, 2010
In particular a Fenian - by the name of John Lynch - died at Woking Invalid Prison on June 2nd 1866, aged 34, and was buried in a pauper's plot in Brookwood Cemetery.
Close to Woking Invalid Prison was a mental asylum for pauper lunatics whose deceased patients were also buried at Brookwood Cemetery.
Click here for more details on Brookwood Cemetery or go to: http://www.brookwoodcemetery.com/
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Brian witnessed the demolition of the barracks and has distinct memories of seeing some of the old cells within the prison during the demolition. He also reports that below the old parade ground was a large underground brick built reservoir that supplied water for the barracks (formally Woking Convict Invalid Prison). Brian's father and his colleagues would occasionally go down into this to inspect it using a small rowing boat that was permanently moored underground for the purpose. Rumours were at the time of demolition and redevelopment that this reservoir could not be filled in and may therefore possibly remain underground to this day.
Brian also recalls various ghost and haunting stories about the barracks and one of the houses was purportedly haunted by a man in a black cloak and/or frock coat and hat.
In addition, Brian has kindly supplied a series of photographs and colour slides taken by his father during the early sixties at the barracks (formally Woking Convict Invalid Prison). A couple of them even show what was once the female prison ...
I believe the building you see in the distance (see above) - beyond the male-prison gate - is part of the old female prison ...
Brian has some vague recollections about this photo (see above). He seems to recall that Surrey Fire Brigade took the opportunity to use the derelict buildings to test their new turntable fire engine. You can see the rear of some of larger houses right at the end of Raglan Road, which were Officers houses. You can also see on the left a pile of reclaimed bricks. Most of the barracks was built of sandstone bricks, which were quite expensive and all salvaged, recycled and re-used elsewhere...
This is a demolition photo taken from the rear upstairs window of 51 Raglan Road by Brian's father...
Circa 1960 view from Inkerman Barracks clock tower looking towards Brookwood Hospital water tower-note junction of Victoria Rd and Raglan Rd.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
Probation class = first nine months of prison life
Third-class = second nine month period of prison life
Second-class = third nine month period of prison life
First-class = fourth nine month period of prison life
Special class = within nine months of expiration of sentence
From what I can gather, the uniforms (or costumes) were as follows:
Probation class = lilac cotton skirt with blouse bodice, a chequered blue and white apron, cap and bonnet and square of brown serge for the shoulders. This was replaced by a thick blue serge dress in winter.
Third class = plain blue skirt in summer, this being replaced by a brown serge dress in winter.
Second class (and first class) = a spotted skirt in summer, replaced with a thick green serge gown in winter.
Special class = "princess" robe of dark grey striped flannel.
We already know that our house was inhabited by Subordinate Officers.
Here, a newspaper article / feature on Woking Convict Invalid Prison written in 1889 refers to our house as 'humbler quarters' ...
Hmm. We prefer to think of it as 'cosy and cute'.
In the legal section of The Graphic dated Saturday October 23rd 1880, the following was reported:
Mme Rachel, the person who became notorious a few years ago as claiming the power to make people "beautiful for ever" and who, after suffering seven years penal servitude for fraud, was convicted a second time in 1878, died in Woking Prison last week from dropsy. An inquest was heard and the jury returned a verdict of "Died by the Visitation of God".
Mme Rachel (aka Sarah Rachel Leverson or Levison and Sarah Russell) was a British criminal and con artist in Victorian-era London during the late 19th century. Operating a prominent beauty salon, from which she personally guaranteed her clientele everlasting youth (using grandiose sounding concoctions comprising everyday ingredients such as bran and water) she would blackmail many wives of London's upper class ...
More can be found on Mme Rachel here: http://vichist.blogspot.com/2008/10/madame-rachel-beautiful-for-ever.html
Or at www.helenrappaport.com/page15.html
According to Wikepedia, the Reverend John Selby Watson (1804 – 6 July 1884) was a British classical translator and murderer. He was sentenced to death in 1872 for killing his wife, but a public outcry led to his sentence being reduced to life imprisonment.
Born in 1804 Watson was educated by an uncle and graduated from
A few weeks after finishing his four-volume History of the Papacy to the Reformation, on
Watson recovered and stood trial at the Old Bailey in January 1872. Despite a history of arguing with his wife, Watson did not argue provocation. Instead, he pleaded insanity, as his counsel put it: "an antecedent improbability in the deed which would lead everyone in the first instance to seek an explanation in insanity." The judge, Mr Justics Byles, opposed this excuse strongly in his summing-up. After deliberating for an hour and a half, the jury found him guilty of murder but with a recommendation that mercy be shown because of his age and previous character. Byles however sentenced him to death.
After the trial many affidavits from doctors were presented testifying to Watson's insanity at the time of the murder. Byles then changed his mind and told the Home Secretary that the medical evidence presented at the trial suggested that "this is not a case in which the sentence should be carried out." After more investigation the Home Office decided that some "imprecise mental unsoundness" had been present and commuted the sentence to life imprisonment. Due to no obvious signs of madness, however, he was not sent to
In the Penny Illustrated Paper dated Saturday December 18th 1869, an article reports that an attempt was made to take the life of Captain Bramley, Governor at Woking Prison. It states: As the convicts were filing out of chapel after Divine service, one of the prisoners ... rushed upon the Governor ... and stabbed him twice in the breast and once in the loin. BLIMEY!
Newspaper article courtesy of British Library
Sunday, May 17, 2009
The following three images are taken from postcards dated 1904 and 1906, long after the prison had been converted into Barracks.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
PRISONS (ENGLAND AND WALES)—KNAPHILL PRISON.
HC Deb [sic] 16 November 1888 vol 330 c1384 1384
MR. HANKEY (Surrey, Chertsey) asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether his attention has been directed to the present condition of the prison at Knaphill, Woking, which is now almost entirely unoccupied; and, whether, in view of the great want of suitable barrack accommodation at present existing throughout the country, he will at once take such steps as will enable him to convert the prison into barracks, or utilize it for the military service of the country?
THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. E. STANHOPE) (Lincolnshire, Horncastle) Communications have been entered into with the Home Office with a view of obtaining for military purposes the buildings and lands of the Woking Convalescent Convict Prison; but no decision has yet been arrived at. The position of these buildings, within easy reach of Aldershot, makes it most desirable to obtain them.
So how did they pull off such an audatious heist?
In short, they discovered that the Bank of England allowed people to draw against bills of acceptance (cheques??) from large institutions without checking to see if they were genuine. They set up an account for 'Horton and Co', impressed the bank manager 'most favourably', then waved some genuine bills under his nose (to establish their credit) before commencing the forgeries which netted them half a million pounds cash!
Easy peazy lemon squeezy.
The following article was published in the New York Times in 1892. It tells the story of how the Bidwell brothers' sister fought tirelessly for their release and gives some interesting insight into the Victorian prison system. Read the Bidwell brothers article here
Later in the day he started backtracking and saying things like: It could have been the shadow of a bird flying past or one of the cats sitting on the window sill ...
Yea right ;-)
Sunday, March 1, 2009
On September 12th 1893, a series of works took place to convert the prison into barracks. On our latest visit to The National Archives, we found some Record Plans and Drawings which show some of the renovations that took place.
The first plan (above) includes the following details:
Woking Inkerman Barracks Recreation Establishment Record Plan
Formally the RC Chapel - Male Convict Prison. Reconstructed and added to under the Barracks Act 1890.
Work commenced 12th September 1893
Work 19th October 1894
Actual cost £8,677.0.0.
Constructor Mr A A Gale of Woking
Accommodation for 1 Battalion (720 R&F)
Other plans show that the Barracks included:
- Skittle Alley
- Coffee Shop
- Wagon Sheds
- Coal Yard (to hold 100 tonnes)
- Grocery Store
- Reading Room
- Fives Courts
A few days earlier on the 17th March, the same newspaper records a Fatal Accident To A Convict. Was it the same convict? Did he fall under a train I wonder?
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Author and Fenian leader. Charles J. Kickham was born on 9 May 1828, at Mullinahone in Co. Tipperary.
Kickham joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) or the Fenians, in 1860. He was a committed separatist. During his career as an activist, he contributed controversial political articles to a nationalist paper, the Irish People.
On 15 September 1865 the Dublin Police took possession of the Irish People headquarters at 12 Parliament Street and seized the entire contents of the office. The few members of the staff still on the premises were arrested and others were picked up on the street or in their homes.
Irish People documents revealed Kickham’s role in the Fenian conspiracy. On 11 November 1865 he was arrested. Nearly blind and almost completely deaf, Kickham was charged for writing ‘treasonous’ articles and for committing high treason. He was tried before Judge William Keogh and sentenced to fourteen years penal servitude.
He was sent to Mountjoy prison. On 10 February 1865 he was transferred to Pentonville Prison near London. During this time his health deteriorated because of poor prison diet. On 14 May 1866 he was transferred to Portland Prison and later to the invalid prison at Woking in Surrey, where he spent the remainder of his term. He was released in 1869 with his health severely impaired and returned to Mullinahone, Co. Tipperary.
More on Charles J Kickham
See full article here.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
... we drove through lovely woods; the scent of flowers was wafted by the breeze into what seemed to be a hearse that was bearing me on toward my living tomb [the prison]...
The prison at Knapp Hill was built on the most approved plan, both as regards ventilation and sanitation, and also its general arrangements, but it was difficult to imagine that it was within thirty-six miles of London, for it was situated on a large moor covered with heath and a few stunted pines, about a mile and a half from Woking Cemetery, in an unused part of which I used to exercise a young setter. Snakes abounded, and frogs kept us awake at night by their croaking. A few blackcock still remained, and numbers of shaggy forest ponies were to be seen roaming about.
Sounds wonderful, don't you think?
Woking Invalid Convict Prison was run by the prisoners in that it was they who were put to work cooking, cleaning, gardening, mending and of course washing.
In Philip Priestly's Victorian Prison Lives, the laundry is described as the least pleasant of all the jobs. It involved lots of physical labour: washing, scrubbing, wringing, sorting and folding thousands of clothes, flannels and sheets every week. These would have included articles from the infirmary, which had come into contact with 'all manner of skin diseases and other disgusting afflictions'.
In Florence Maybrick's book describing her time at Woking Invald Convict Prison we discover that:
Each cell was provided with a nail on which, during the day, the prisoner could hang a wet towel, and, during the night, her clothes. Those who worked in the laundry came in with wet clothing every evening, which, as no change is allowed, must be either dried at night or put on wet the next morning.
It must have been unbearably cold in the winter to put damp clothes on every morning. Brrrr.
I found a great little source of information on women in prison which includes this extract from a book called Prison Characters Drawn from Life by a Prison Matron. The book, which was written in 1866, has this to say about the laundry:
The women are disputatious......and the soap question is always in the ascendant in the 'washing house'. The prisoners are always on the watch for stray pieces of soap - which is handy for smoothing the hair, for instance - and quick is the eye to detect an error in a contemporary who, in her absence of mind, places her soap by her tub-side instead of in her pocket, and quick are the fingers to confiscate it accordingly. Quarrels about soap are constantly recurring in the laundry; there is no honour among soap thieves; women will rob their dearest pals of the two or three o'clock soaps, and maintain 'til the last, and with all the power at their command, their innocence of defalcation.
There are three rows of houses (as marked on the 1871 Ordnance Survey map above) that used to cater for the prison staff. I believe they were built at different stages of Woking Invalid Convict Prison's development.
The first stretch (marked in red) is our little stretch of Raglan Road.
The second row of houses (marked in blue) is also Raglan Road. These houses look similar to ours but they are larger and have entrances front and back. There used to be a row of these houses on both sides of the road. Now only the one side remains. The black and white image clearly shows houses on both sides of the road. It looks like such a grand road.
The third row of houses (marked in green) is furthest away from the prison and can be found on Victoria Road. These are really pretty little cottages, but look different from those on Raglan Road. If I'm honest, I don't know if these are original or if they've been rebuilt, but they certainly appear on the old map.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Although it occurred some months after I had left the service, and while I was on a visit to my cousin ... who succeeded me in the office of Assistant Surgeon, the following incident may be worth recording. By the kind permission of the Governor I was allowed to accompany my cousin round the wards, and was asked to see a man who was said to have paralysis of both legs. I thought with the others he was malingering, and the usual remedies having failed, it was decided to use galvanism.
The batteries were out of order, but by uniting two, we got a fairly good current. While arranging the batteries, it was mentioned audibly that a mild current would be used at first and the strength increased daily.
The batteries were places on a table on one side of the bed and Mr. E. S. Blaker, standing on the other, applied one pole to the hip, and asked me to apply the other to the foot. Never was a more miraculous cure. The man jumped up, said : "I'm damned if I can stand this," and rushed across the ward, dragging the batteries off the table, upsetting the sulphuric acid, and destroying two sets of bedding and the floor for several feet.
On a more personal level, says Dr Campbell, 'it was my invariable practice, in prescribing for the patients, to treat them with as much consideration as if they had been delicate ladies - at the same time enjoining a kindly treatment on the part of the attendants.'
One of the patients on the receiving end of this 'consideration', during the Campbell reign at Woking hospital prison, was George Bidwell: 'the doctor wound up the interview with the clincher, in his high squeaking tones: "Well, my man, you know you were sent here to die, so you must not make any trouble, for there is nothing I can do for you."
This was his stereotyped reply, no matter what the case of the nature of the disease, which had usually been aggravated or brought on by the hard work with insufficient food.' His summary of the doctor's long career is in similar vein. 'Dr Campbell,' he writes, 'resigned from the service and retired to private life with a pension and the inexpressible hatred and contempt of all prisoners who ever had the misfortune to come under his treatment.'
Patients suffering from the real disease gladly submit to this or any other remedy likely to benefit them; but malingerers show a great deal of reugnance to it.' Victorian Prison Lives
- Prison Register Number
- Place of Conviction
- Date of Conviction
- Sentence in Years
The first image below shows one of these Attested Lists. It's difficult to see from this image because it's in poor condition, but it has a really pretty, colourful floral pattern on the cover.
2438 ... William Aylsby .. age 63 ... Buggery ... convicted in York ... 8/12/64 ... 20 years ... Infirm ... V good behaviour
2265 ... Robert Wight ... age 56 ... Forging Power of Attorney ... convicted in Gloucester ... 6/8/64 ... 10 years ... Infirm
3034 ... John Cornish ... age 70 ... Stealing a lamb ... convicted in Exeter ... 8/5/66 ... 7 years ... Rather delicate
3179 ... Joseph Rowley ... age 25 ... Bestiality ... convicted in Shrewsbury ... 17/3/64 ... 10 years ... Rather delicate
3774 ... John W Teasdale ... age ?? ... Carnally knowing a child ... convicted in Newcastle ... 14/7/68 ... 10 years ... Rather delicate (Notice how a paedophile gets ten years less than someone committing a homosexual act. I'm guessing that the 'abominable crime' mentioned later is also homosexuality.)
4226 ... James Kavannagh ... age 30 ... Coming to the knowledge of an intended mutiny in the army in aid of the Fenian conspiracy and not giving notice to his commanding officer ... convicted in Dublin ... 26/1/67 ... 7 years ... rather delicate ... v. good behaviour
4260 ... Thomas Campbell ... age 38 ... An abominable crime ... convicted in York ... 29/1/69 ... 20 years ... rather delicate ... good behaviour (Blimey, he couldn't even bring himself to say the word)
4299 ... Charles Harris ... age 17 ... Striking a superior officer ... convicted in Bermista (Bermuda?) ... 3/5/70 ... 5 years ... (Hot headed 17 year olds ... nothing's changed there then!)
4356 ... Hector Gillies ... age 41 ... Inciting a person to cast away a certain Brit ship on the high seas ... convicted in C C Ct ... 19/9/70 ... 5 years ... rather delicate (Piracy? Or sabotage?)
4458 ... James Fowkes ... age 52 ... Using instrument to procure (word abortion crossed out and replaced with:) miscarriage ... convicted in Warwick ... 8/7/69 ... 10 years ... Rather delicate ... V good behaviour
Another one that stands out in my memory is a Samual Wadsworth aged 53 from Leeds who put a stone on a railway track with the intent to obstruct a train.
Remember, all prisoners were attend chapel every morning, regardless of their faith.