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

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.

The goal had huge entrance gates, the towers were Martello and the walls were 25ft high. This was to give the feeling of isolation to the rest of the world and give the impression of strict control of the Prisoners. The building was made of freestone, in grecian-doric style of architecture.

There was an open space of grass in front of the building, which enclosed in iron post and chain fencing. The cost of building the gaol was £65,227 and accommodates 315 prisoners, but was enlarged and several new cells added. Inside the prison had 185 cells accommodating a maximum of 330 prisoners and amazingly central heating. The building was also equipped with its own drainage and water system. A civil engineer called Sylvester designed the system, which pumped hot water through pipes in every block and was capable of raising the internal temperature to 33 degrees higher than outside.

The Jail had its own infirmary room, which was detached and comprises of a day room, surgery, bathroom, basement and four rooms on the upper floor. Another building was detached from the prison of a circular shape and was used for prisoners sentenced to solitary confinement. The prison also had a keepers house which contains a basement, three kitchens, and storeroom. Also the prison had its very own chapel and two entrance lodges. The prison had a Treadmill, at any one time 48 men could use the treadmill holding onto a rail treading on the steps of a continuous revolving staircase like a watermill wheel. The boundary walls round the prison enclosed three acres of land, those prisoners were subjected to a tough regime. Those that were sentenced to hard labour were kept at work for nine hours a day. Those doing labour had meat once a week and the rest existed on a diet of bread and porridge. The prisoners were excluded from the law abiding society as for the reasoning of the layout and structure of the jail.

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