• Vernon Gate
  • Vernon Gate
  • Vernon Gate
  • Vernon Gate
  • Vernon Gate
  • Vernon Gate
  • Vernon Gate

History

1327: Derby was granted the right to have a gaol

Edward II granted Derby town the right to have a gaol but the first legal sanction was for a provision of a gaol within the borough was contained by a charter granted to the burgesses of Derby by Richard III in the year 1483 but the town didn’t take immediate advantage of it.

1538: Two gallows were erected for hanging prisoners

Prisoners were sent to Nottingham before this time. Charles Dickens viewpoint was one of the old prisons stood on the edge of Markeaton Brook which was exposed to filth and damp; as if they wanted to drown the prisoner before they hanged him.

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1756: A prison was erected in the Nuns Green area

The prison was erected at the top of Friar Gate away from the town centre. It was described as an elegant prison and much better than its predecessor. This jail was designed to house a maximum of 29 prisoners.

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1821: Architect Mr Francis Goodwin designed new jail for the county

With the county jail deemed inadequate for the demands of the county it was decided in October 1821 to build a new jail which were six acres of land and was valued at £2400. Mr Francis Goodwin was the architect and his plans and designs were approved by the committee at the epiphany sessions on the 16th January 1823.

1825: The Prison on Friar Gate was eventually demolished and houses and a hotel were built on the site

The prison on Friar Gate continued to be used as the county borough jail for a few years after the one off Vernon Street was erected and known as the Vernon Street Jail.

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1825-1828: The new county gaol was opened

The New county gaol was situated off Vernon Street with 6 acres of land backing onto Uttoxeter Old Road from the Vernon Street and South Gate junction and was designed by Francis Goodwin. The prison took five years to build.

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1831: Eight Martello towers were erected after the political riots

The towers were designed by Mr Mason and were built by Thomas Cooper at a cost of £1540. These towers were furnished with firearms; which the prison used as defense. It was also pronounced by the "society for the improvement of prison discipline" to be of the best plan and construction in the United Kingdom. Since that date it has often been mentioned by authoritative writers on our houses of correction as a "model prison". The prison was ahead of its time and was the first in the country to be so well equipped.

1833-1834: The first person to be hanged in the jail

John Leedham was the first person to be hanged for committing bestiality with a sheep. He was from Ashbourne. He was hanged at 12pm on April 17th. John seemed firm and unfazed as he went towards the drop and wasn’t agitated. When the executioner struck the blow his body feel towards the ground. From the length of the fall he didn’t appear to suffer much. The criminal was of short stature and strongly built aged 20 years.

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