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8 August 1881 Gladstone Gaol

 8 August 1881 Gladstone Gaol

On 8 August 1881, two months to the day after it had been opened, Gladstone Gaol received its first female prisoners. Some time before 1879 Charles Mann, MP for the district, was asked by the residents what he could do for the town. He asked them if they would like a gaol and two years later Gladstone Gaol, said by one writer to have a gloomy solidity, was opened. Mr Pollett from the Redruth Gaol at Burra was appointed head keeper and the gaol had accommodation for 60 male and female prisoners. It appears that it rarely had a full complement and the only ‘lifer’ was a cat called Lady Jane Grey.

The gaol was closed in 1939 but was used in the early part of World War Two as an internment camp for German and Italian nationals regarded as a security risk. Later in the war a military detention barracks for soldiers absent without leave. In June 1953 the gaol re-opened as a medium security prison and was finally closed in December 1975 because the facilities were regarded as outdated. In 1979 the gaol was again used, this time for the making of the film Stir.

Mail, 3 August 1952, Newspaper Cuttings Book Volume 3, p.51.

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