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

1996: Richard Felix unearthed secret documents from where the prison once lay

Richard Felix was quoted in the Derby Evening Telegraph on the 16th April 1996 did some detective work on the ground of where the prison once lay and he had unearthed secret documents that had been hidden and been left untouched for more than 60 years.

The documents were found in the pits consisted of old photograph equipment, hundreds of handwritten ledgers, criminal records, addresses, notes and documents relating to past prisoners at the jail which closed in 1916. After some more checks some documents relating to the criminals were dated as far back as 1915.He had already known that the jail on Vernon Street had an execution pitch. The pit was built into the basement of an execution shed where private hangings used to be held. The condemned man would have his head in a noose and stand 15ft drop into the pit. At any given word the door would open and his body would plunge down. After a few minutes the executioner and the doctor would walk down the pit to check that the criminal was dead. The pit was built right next to a photo lab where mug shots of each of the inmates were taken.

By this time flats were available to rent in an article from 2nd April 1996. The Derwent Housing Association had already completed the first phase of the Vernon Gate development and had already built 100 one or two bedroom flats on the site in South Street. A total of 42 more flats were going to be built by Christmas of that year and the remainder in 1997. The flats were going to form part of a 10million scheme which also involves 75,000 square office complex called Vernon Gate which the Offices were completed by 2001 and is situated just behind the Grade II Listed façade. Separate entrances for business and residential users were built in South Street and Uttoxeter Old Road. The grade II listed façade will be retained.

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