Read about the history of the old county gaol in Huntingdon

The old Huntingdon County Gaol was in use from 1768-1892.

The old Huntingdon County Gaol was in use from 1768-1892. - Credit: KAR BROCKETT

As the chairman of the Huntingdonshire Community Nostalgia Group, I am fortunate to have access to an exciting array of photographs and can now write about this area that is close to me.

Karl Brockett is chairman of the Huntingdonshire Community Nostalgia Group.

Karl Brockett is chairman of the Huntingdonshire Community Nostalgia Group. - Credit: KARL BROCKETT

We are always searching for more memories and photos, so please do contact me if you have anything to add to our group.

I am very grateful for this opportunity and I hope Hunts Post readers will enjoy dipping into the area's past. 

We will kick off with a piece about the old County Gaol. This was located on Orchard Lane, in Huntingdon, as far back as 1768. Even taking into consideration the era, the conditions and treatment of the prisoners was awful.

Sanitation was non existent and nourishment for the condemned was far from society’s mind and eyes. Ill treatment from the institution would have likely occurred. 

It was closed some time in 1830, however it is still possible to view the bars from the windows as you walk down Orchard Lane.

 The new county gaol was built off St Peter's Road. Opposite where the school is situated now. It was finalised in 1829.The task of building this new gaol would fall to a Thomas Phipps from Surrey.  

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It was more than likely built to replace the old gaol, as although crime rates had not risen greatly the prosecution rates had.

This amounted to far more prisoners than the original had held. It was enlarged yet again in 1850. Over a period 
of 10 years, a keeper’s cottage and a chapel were included in the structure.

An infirmary was added later, leaning towards thinking of the time that the health of the prisoners was now a consideration, all be it minorly. During this time, the rather radical female wing was also included.

In 1865/6 although documentation conflicts saying 1892 after a mere six decades in use, this county gaol closed its doors for the last time as well.  Any of the prisoners that were still contained within its walls were sent to Bedford prisons.

It is worth noting that seven prisoners escaped the St Peter’s Road gaol in 1847 and the princely reward of £35 pounds was offered for their capture.

There were all types of criminal cases ranging from serious crimes to apple stealing, although it was a very serious crime in those days with a pretty harsh sentence 

Contact Karl Brockett via email:

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