Year 12 Psychology class took a trip out to Shrewsbury Prison, formally known as “The Dana Prison” which was decommissioned around 7 years ago.
It was a great experience day and gave the students a chance to really understand how life has changed for prisoners over the decades and what it continues to be like in the present day.
The day started with the class being changed into prison jumpsuits and “booked in”, followed by an induction talk from the Officer in Charge, who told us all about the myriad problems prisons are facing, most notably the contraband being smuggled into prisons with even more sophisticated tactics and technology, such as the use of drones.
Following our induction we had a tour of the cells and wings. The students all said that they were surprised at how claustrophobic the cells were, with prisoners often sharing or even forced to endure three to one in a cell.
Worst of all was the fact that, up until 1998, this prison did not have functioning toilets in each cell and the prisoners had to manually “slop out” their own toilet!! Yuck!
Shrewsbury prison is actually built on top of an old Georgian Prison, with ample amount of history and alleged hauntings.
Albert Pierrepoint conducted many of the executions at Shrewsbury Prison, the last being in 1961.
Pierrepoint was an English hangman who famously executed the last British Woman at Holloway Prison, called Ruth Ellis on 13th July 1955. He lived in the village next to where Mrs Stockton grew up!
Heartbreakingly, during Victorian times women were allowed to keep their children with them up until the age of 4!! One of the most interesting things I learnt about the cells for Victorian women was that the beds were made of ropes, which used to come loose and so had to be tightened to make them more taut; hence where the saying, “sleep tight” comes from. This actually gave me goosebumps!
Overall, it was an excellent enrichment trip for the Psychology course. The tour guide was an ex-prison officer with over 30 years of experience (20 of which were at Shrewsbury) and has seen some of the most infamous offenders during their incarceration including Reggie Kray, Jeffry Archer and Myra Hindley. Following our tour we had a talk whereby some of the key components of our course were addressed, including behaviour modification in prisons, restorative justice and examining the psychological effects of custodial sentencing. We all came away from the trip with even more value for the liberties that we have.
The prison is also famous for being the film set of the drama “TIME” which has most recently been on the BBC. There is a picture of me standing outside Sean Bean’s cell, No. 39!! Thank goodness I got to go home at the end of it all!