History

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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1862-1868: The last public execution at Vernon Gate prison

The last public execution was of Richard Thorley on the 11th April 1862 just before noon. He was hanged outside the gaol by William Calcraft. Two months earlier he had murdered Eliza Morrow, his girlfriend who he had seen flirting with a soldier.

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1873: Derbys first private execution took place

Derbys first private execution was 24 year old Benjamin Hudson who was hanged by William Marwood for the murder of his wife Eliza during a quarrel they had at West Handley on the 24th April.

1880-1886: The government took over Vernon Gate prison

The government took over the Prison and remodeled it and improved the drainage system. The surrounding area within the prison was improved. The wings attached to the Governors block were enlarged. Each of the three wings contains three tiers of cells on either side. The cookhouse was also improved. In 1886 the jail was renamed to HMP Derby.

1907: William Slack was the last man to be hanged in the gaol

William Slack was hanged on the 16th July 1907 for the murder of Lucy Wilson. He was hanged by Henry Pierrepoint. The murder took place in Chesterfield. William Slack after a few words with Lucy Wilson took a hatchet and struck the woman with a number of blows. William claimed that Lucy would not leave him alone after he had broken off their affair.

1916-1929: The jail was closed

The jail was closed in 1916 and from 1919 until its demolition the jail acted as a military prison when the army authorities had taken over the prison and it was for those prisoners convicted by court martial.

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1933-1987: The citys first greyhound stadium opened

The greyhound stadium opened in April 1933 by the Preston Greyhound Racing Association Limited. The first manager was Ted Rimmer, Brother of Bill Rimmer, the famous Waterloo Cup coursing “slipper” at Altcar. The track boasted two very palatable clubs, one on the grandstand side and one on the popular side. Two trainers there were Charlie Green, Mine host of the Dixie Inn, Hawkins Lane, Burton On Trent and Harold Broadbent whom later went on to be in charge of the RSPCA.

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1990: Derby City Council received a planning application for a 300,000 square development

The planning application was a joint venture between J.F Miller properties Ltd, a subsidiary of Raine Industries plc and the Heights of Abraham limited was submitted on the 3rd June 1990. They formed a new company called Derby City Properties Limited which will handle the redevelopment. Plans included of the five acre site is to have the Grade II listed facade of the Greyhound stadium as the entrance of the development which will consist of mainly four storey buildings divided by attractive landscaped piazzas. The buildings will be assessable to the disabled people and have lifts installed and onsite parking for nearly 600 cars.

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.

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