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Author Topic: Chatham Convict Prison  (Read 29824 times)

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Offline Dave Smith

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Re: Chatham Convict Prison
« Reply #40 on: August 01, 2017, 13:06:33 »
Amazing how quickly they could build in those days. To be " partly occupied", I would imagine that the 2 mile by 18ft wall would have had to be finished first- in 5 months! Very " matter of fact" that, " the whole of the sewage runs directly into the river"! ugh.

Offline Leofwine

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Re: Chatham Convict Prison
« Reply #39 on: July 31, 2017, 23:26:39 »
Good description of the prison in this newspaper article.

Kentish Mercury - Saturday 16 December 1854

THE NEW PRISON FOR CONVICTS—It is now several years since the system of forced labour by convicts, which was formerly carried out at Chatham Dockyard, has been abolished, and in lieu thereof the present plan of free-paid labour introduced. Owing, however, to the recent modifications in the law relating to transportation, the Government some time back decided on reverting to the previous plan of employing convicts to perform the more heavy parts of the work in Chatham Dockyard. As objections were made to berthing the convicts on board hulks moored in the river, arrangements were made for erecting convict prisons on a large scale near the dockyard. The site selected was a piece of ground consisting of several acres, situated at the rear of the dockyard, and forming a portion of the practising ground of the Royal Engineer corps. So rapidly have the works been pushed forward, that already the huge pile buildings is hastening towards completion. The building is T shaped, the main building with its lateral springing from the centre being several hundred feet in length. This shape is similar to the prison at Portsmouth, and is said to possess several advantages over buildings constructed differently. This building consists of basement floors and three stories above, and when completed will Accommodate about 2,000 persons, each in a separate cell. The flooring of each cell of slate, and the partitions and ceilings of grooved iron. Each cell is eight feet in length, four in width, and an ingenious plan of ventilation has been introduced into each cell which will be under the control of the prisoner. A portion of the prison being built on arches, these receptacles serve for stores and warehouses. As nearly the whole of the prisoners will be employed in the dockyard, a walled passage will communicate from that establishment to the prison. Some distance from the main building are the punishment cells, to which access from the prison will obtained by an underground passage, so that those unhappy convicts sentenced to that kind of punishment will never once see daylight until the expiration of their sentence. The building is to  be heated means of flues running the whole length of the centre; these flues are three feet wide. Each cell will be lighted with gas. Workshops on a large scale are being erected, in which those prisoners at work in the dockyard will follow their trades. There is also a hospital, a chapel, and a cooking house, where all the cooking will be accomplished means of steam machinery. A large bathing pond, exercise yards, and the several offices connected with so large an establishment will also be built. The whole of the sewerage runs direct into the river. Houses for a large number of warders will also be built. The whole will be surrounded by a wall 18 feet high, extending to the length of little less than two miles. It is expected that some portion the building will be ready for the reception of prisoners early next year.

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bharrison

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Re: Chatham Convict Prison
« Reply #38 on: April 17, 2012, 11:10:06 »
My grandfather Dr Richard Charlton Harrison was Principal Medical Officer at this prison from 1881 to 1884/5 having previously served at Wormwood Scrubbs and Dartmoor before going into private practice in Ealing. He died 1908.

Offline kyn

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Re: Chatham Convict Prison
« Reply #37 on: March 20, 2012, 22:28:07 »
16 Sept. , 1904 , Completion of St Georges French Cemetery. The relocation of 520 skulls from the St Mary’s Island site to the RN Barracks Church gardens.

Offline kyn

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Re: Chatham Convict Prison
« Reply #36 on: March 20, 2012, 22:22:20 »
11 May , 1869 , Completion of French Cemetery on St.Marys Island. Communal graves for former prisoners of war, mainly French.

Offline kyn

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Re: Chatham Convict Prison
« Reply #35 on: March 11, 2012, 11:06:20 »
And the 1901 plans shows old workshops beside the burial ground.



Offline kyn

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Re: Chatham Convict Prison
« Reply #34 on: March 11, 2012, 11:00:52 »
I grew up in lower Gillingham and was aware from a young age of stories about "Prison Hulks" on the Medway...

One was regarding French prisoners of war that were captured during the Napoleonic era...They died of disease ( probably Yellow Fever "and were buried on the site of what became the Gillingham Gasworks....The story goes  that once development of the site began and the bodies were discovered they were transported under cover of darkness to St Mary's Island ( in the Dockyard ) for re-burial.

WW

The skulls of the prisoners buried at St Marys Island were moved to St Georges Church at HMS Pembroke.


Here is where the graves were located on St Mary's Island.

1883



Offline kyn

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Re: Chatham Convict Prison
« Reply #33 on: March 04, 2012, 21:04:25 »
1883

Offline Leofwine

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Re: Chatham Convict Prison
« Reply #32 on: February 20, 2012, 23:36:06 »
Kentish Gazette - Tuesday 26 February 1861

CHATHAM.
THE CONVICTS AT CHATHAM. — On Monday Major General Sir Joshua Jebb, K.C.B., Inspector-General of Prisons, accompanied by Capt. Gambier, Director-General of Convict Prisons, again attended at the Convict Prison Chatham, for the purpose of continuing the investigation into the circumstances connected with the recent alarming outbreaks on the part of the convicts undergoing their sentences of penal servitude in that establishment. On the former occasion Sir Joshua Jebb attending the prison in addition to ordering 48 of the ringleaders to be severely flogged, he directed that 105 of those of the convicts who were proved to have taken prominent part the revolt should be chained together and not permitted to enter their cells, sleeping at night on boards in the wssh-house and bath-rooms, and standing all day the prison yard. On Sunday week, however, Captain Powell, in consideration of the penitence displayed by those men, and their generally excellent conduct during the week, ordered their chains be removed and the prisoners to return to their cells. Sir Joshua Jebb, however, directed that 23 of the convicts should again undergo that punishment until further orders, in order to mark the sense of their conduct entertained by the authorities. There are still between 400 and 500 of the prisoners in close confinement in their cells, on a diet of bread and water, which will be continued for some time longer. On Tuesday 100 additional convicts were removed from their cells and allowed to proceed to their daily labour, making 500 who are now at work, 250 being on St. Mary's Island, and the same number in the dockyard, the conduct the whole of whom has undergone considerable improvement, their demeanour presenting a marked contrast to their defiant behaviour a few weeks since, proving that the late severe measures adopted at the prison have not been without their effect. The convicts employed on St. Mary's Island are in charge of a strong military force, and it is the intention of the authorities to have a body of troops stationed on the island on every occasion of the convicts being at work. During the visit of Sir Joshua Jebb at the prison on Monday a number of the convicts were examined, including about 40 whose sentences of penal servitude Will, according to the rule now force of remitting a certain portion of each man's term, expire during the present month. The recent order of the Home Secretary, however, directing the whole of the prisoners to forfeit all their privileges, and to lose the gratuities usually awarded them, will operate against the convicts who were to have been discharged this month, all of whom will be required to serve their full period, unless they can prove to the satisfaction of the authorities that they were no way connected with the recent outbreak. The investigation made by Sir Joshua Jebb will lead to several important changes and alterations In the structural arrangements of the prison, which, as at present existing, render too great facilities for combined insubordination. Several important alterations are likewise to be effected the internal management of the prison, which will have the effect of placing greater powers in the hands of the Governor and the other superior officers. The names of the principal warders who are discharged are Webb, Barton, Holmans, and Whitting. They left the prison on Tuesday, and proceeded to the Millbank establishment, where they are to do duty until they have been awarded their pensions. Mr. Measor, the deputy-governor, has also resigned his appointment at the prison, but the resignation of this gentleman has nothing to do with the late disturbances, as it was placed in the hands of the authorities several weeks since. Not the least attempt at any disturbance has been made by the prisoners, and, indeed, anything of the kind would be at once put down by the strong military force still at the prison. On each occasion of the convicts being released from their cells to be told off for their daily labour, the soldiers are drawn up in front of them, in readiness to suppress the slightest symptoms of insubordination. A correspondent writing on Thursday says:— " Already several important changes have been effected in the internal management of the Chatham convict prison, the late serious mutinies having evidently opened tbe eyes of the authorities to several serious defects in the system of convict management hitherto in force at that establishment, which the recent investigations instituted Sir Joshua Jebb and Captain Gambier have materially helped elucidate. As above stated, a number of the principal warders, warders, and assistant-warders have received an intimation that in all probability their services will be dispensed with on their receiving a superannuation allowance or gratuity. Most of these officers have been in the convict service a great number of years, having served on board the hulks at Chatham and Woolwich, where the discipline was altogether different from that observed at the Chatham prison. Yesterday a number of the most experienced warders from the convict establishment at Pentonville were transferred to the Chatham prison, where they will be temporarily employed for some weeks, and at the same time four of the most active and intelligent warders — whose names are Courtman, Kemp, Weldon, and Curtis — were selected to fill the office of principal warders, and installed in their duties. The removal of so many of the warders from the prison is stated not to have been the result of the late mutiny, but to have been recommended some time back, Captain Powell, the governor, and the other superior officers concerned in the discipline of the prison, deeming it absolutely necessary. On the establishment of the prison at St. Mary's, in 1856, the staff of the two hulks at Woolwich contributed to make up the body of officers, and not only were there innumerable Jealousies existing between them, but in many cases the officers so selected knew very little of strict prison discipline, and were both unaccustomed and unfitted for the more trying management of a prison shore. It was to this circumstance that Sir G. C. Lewis recently alluded in the House of Commons when he remarked that there was an element existing among the officers themselves which greatly contributed to weaken the discipline of the establishment. Up to the present time there has been no attempt at a renewal of the late riotous outbreaks on the part of the convicts; indeed, from the complete arrangements made for suppressing anything of the kind for the future, the slightest attempt at any disturbance would immediately put down. The number of convicts who are released from their cells and allowed to proceed to their daily work in the dockyard and on St. Mary's Island is daily increasing, and these are again allowed the full labour diet. There are, however, still a number of the prisoners in strict confinement, and several in irons and chained, and these remain a diet bread and water for their share in the late revolt.
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Offline Leofwine

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Re: Chatham Convict Prison
« Reply #31 on: February 16, 2012, 18:28:09 »
Kentish Gazette - Tuesday 12 March 1861

CHATHAM.
THE CONVICT PRISON CHATHAM. - Colonel Sir Joshua Jebb, inspector-general of prisons, arrived on Tuesday morning at the convict prison from the Home Office, to institute an inquiry into the claims of several convicts whose periods service of imprisonment have expired, and to ascertain whether any of them were concerned in the revolt and mutiny on St. Mary's Island and at the prison, when upwards of £1,000 worth of property was destroyed; also to ascertain there exists any cause of complaint, and whether the regulations recently laid down the Home Office for the guidance of the officers towards prisoners are strictly carried out, with regard to the internal regulations of the prison, and for the discipline of the convicts. There are still some serious defects, and it will be well for Sir Joshua Jebb to direct his attention particularly to the existing system which fails to reclaim the criminal, and the warders whose care the prisoners are under are actually prohibited from attempting to work any change in the criminals they have in charge. There is doubt that Sir Joshua Jebb is desirous to do all be can to alter and amend the laws for the better government of convict prisons. It is understood that he will frequently visit the prison, as he has discovered that his rules have not been strictly adhered to by those officers whose province it was to see them carried into effect.
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Offline Leofwine

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Re: Chatham Convict Prison
« Reply #30 on: February 15, 2012, 19:08:36 »
Kentish Gazette - Tuesday 26 March 1861

CHATHAM.
INTENDED OUTBREAK AMONG THE CONVICTS. — The coercive measures recently resorted to by the authorities to put a stop to outbreaks among the convicts at this establishment appear not to have had the desired effect, for there still exists much discontent among them, and a determined hostility to the governor's authority and that of the officers under him. A plot was formed, it appears, to take possession of the prison, and secure the warders, and Wednesday was the day fixed on to carry it out; but this was happily discovered by a communication which the governor received previously to the prisoners arriving at the prison for dinner. The plan was that as soon as the gangs had entered the prisons they were to fasten all the doors and secure the warders, and as the clerks leave at twelve o'clock, they would then obtain the control of the prison and do as they liked. Information of the plot was sent to the military authorities here the governor, Captain Powell, and a body of upwards of 300 soldiers, each supplied with ten rounds of ball cartridge, arrived with several officers, under the command of Colonel Jervis, 1st depot battalion. They took their position the vicinity the prison, to be in readiness to act against the convicts if required. The presence of such a force drawn up with fixed bayonets, had the effect of overawing the prisoners, and they entered the prison very quietly. The troops remained under arms some hours. It appears that those who concocted the plot are now in irons, awaiting an order from the Home Office, as to their disposal.
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Offline Leofwine

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Re: Chatham Convict Prison
« Reply #29 on: February 09, 2012, 23:20:28 »
Three more photos of the prison.
Photographs reproduced by permission of the Royal Engineers Museum www.re-museum.co.uk

1856


1857


1860
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Offline Leofwine

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Re: Chatham Convict Prison
« Reply #28 on: February 08, 2012, 02:09:44 »
Kentish Gazette - Tuesday 02 July 1861

CHATHAM.
ATTEMPTED MURDER. — A most murderous outrage was committed at Chatham, at a somewhat early hour on Saturday morning week, a convict named Burkett, a most desperate character, on one of the warders of the convict establishment, named Cooper, who, but for the timely arrival of some of the guard to his assistance, would, there is little doubt, have met with his death at the hands of his brutal assailant; as it is, however, the unfortunate keeper has received such fearful injuries that, even, if he survives he will be totally incapacitated for further service. In describing the murderous attack it is necessary to state, that for several weeks past the whole of the convicts have been withdrawn from the dockyard and other public works at Chatham on which they were employed, in order that they might be occupied in brickmaking, the authorities having wisely determined on rendering the labour of the prisoners more profitable, by employing them in manufacturing the bricks which will be required in building the large docks and basins about to be constructed at Chatham. Early on Saturday morning the convicts were marshalled as usual to commence their daily toil, each gang being under the charge of a warder, who was furnished with the means to defend himself in case of being attacked. The gang of which the warder Cooper had charge included the convict Burkett, the prisoners being employed in preparing their tools. At this moment Burkett, who had not received the slightest provocation, rushed at the warder, and gave him a terrific blow on the back of the skull with a spade with which he was about to commence work. Fortunately, the thick cap worn the warder acted as a protection to the head, or there is little doubt that the blow would have cleft the skull in twain. As it was, however, the spade cut through the cap and inflicted a ghastly cut, several inches in length, from which the blood poured in a torrent. Before the unfortunate warder could do anything to defend himself his assailant followed up his first blow by another, which knocked the warder down. From the marks on the body of the injured man, it is evident that the intention of Burkett was to murder him — indeed, he subsequently expressed as much — there being a severe cut on the shoulder, from which the clothes were torn, and also one on each of the arms, all inflicted with the spade. The most serious injury, next to the wound at the back of the head, which Cooper has received is a severe cut on the right hand, which is nearly cut in half across the knuckles, his brutal assailant having "jobbed" the spade down as his intended victim lay on the ground. Should the warder recover from the effects of the injuries, he will never again have the use of this hand. The cries of Cooper attracting the attention of the other warders and guard they hastened to his assistance, and having secured Burkett, the injured man was removed to the prison infirmary, where, owing to the character of the wounds he had received, it was at first thought he would not survive. Cooper is described as bearing a most exemplary character, and of a harmless, inoffensive demeanour. He has been employed in the convict service a great number of years. No reason whatever can be assigned for the murderous attack on the part of Burkett, except that he is a man of most brutal character. A short time since he attempted to make his escape, for which he has since been working in irons. He was also one of the ringleaders in the late mutinies.
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Offline Leofwine

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Re: Chatham Convict Prison
« Reply #27 on: February 07, 2012, 22:02:44 »
Kentish Gazette - Tuesday 20 August 1861

DARING ESCAPE AND RECAPTURE
A daring and successful attempt at escape was made at Chatham, on Thursday, by a convict named John Macallum, who was undergoing a sentence of eight years' penal servitude at Chatham convict establishment. From what has transpired since the plan of the escape was so successfully carried out, it would seem that Macallum, who, although only 18 years of age, is described as being an adept in crime, was employed at the extreme end of Chatham dockyard near the river, with a few other prisoners, the work being that of removing mud and earth on the bank of the river.
Only a short time ago Macallum attempted to make his escape while employed in Chatham dockyard, and actually succeeded baffling the officers for some time, until afterwards discovered not far from the spot where had disappeared. Since that time he had been, until a week or two since, working chains beneath his dress, but his period of punishment having expired they were removed, and he was allowed to work the same as the other convicts. On Thursday Macallum determined on again attempting his escape, and there is little doubt he had admitted some of his fellow-prisoners into the secret of his intentions. During the instant that the vigilence of the convict guard in charge was relaxed by his attention being diverted to some of the other convicts, Macallum slipped away from his gang, passed round by a barge near which he was at work, and beneath a small landing jetty. Here he contrived to change his convict dress, but how he succeeded in obtaining a fresh supply of clothes is one of those mysteries which would appear to be insoluble except to convicts themselves. That he had procured some fresh clothes, however, is certain, as some portions of his convict dress were left behind. The prisoner then crawled near some timber, of which there is an immense quantity at that part of the dockyard, and before the convict warder would appear to have become aware of his being missing he had traversed a considerable space in the dockyard, and is believed to have passed through a door the most house, scarcely ever used, as this was afterwards found open. He then ascended a pile of timbers, one of which he raised against the boundary wall, by which means he reached the top. Although the part of the wall on which he now was almost faced the convict prison, he does not appear to have been perceived by any of the officials of that establishment, and, unmolested, he dropped from the wall to the ground. As he was running away, near the soldiers' rifle-ground, in the direction of Brompton, he was seen by a girl, who had observed him let himself down by the wall. The convict, however, immediately disarmed her suspicions by asking her who was the nearest doctor, as a policeman had met with a dreadful accident in the dockyard and was nearly killed, and he had been directed to get over the wall and run the nearest way for a surgeon. Macallum then ran off towards Gillingham, but was immediately afterwards missed. A search was then made for him, and Sergeant Langstone, one of the detective force and several of the warders turned out to scour the neighbourhood to effect his capture. After tracking him as far as Gillingham, all traces of him were lost, and although the officers remained the neighbourhood all day, searching the orchards, brickfields, and hedges, no tidings of him could be obtained. Intelligence of the convict's escape, with a description of his appearance, was directly telegraphed to every principal town the kingdom, and a reward of £5 offered for his capture. Late on Friday night the escaped convict was seen entering the town of Dartford by Sergeant Claddish, of the Kent county police, who immediately arrested him, feeling satisfied he was the man for whom the search was being made. When captured, Macallum had on the trousers in which he escaped made out of the blankets supplied to the prisoners for their bedding. He was in his shirt sleeves, the latter being worn as a frock. He stated that since his escape he had swam across the Medway three times to avoid being seen. On Saturday he was again safely lodged in St. Mary's prison, and placed in irons to await his punishment for being at large.
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Offline swiftone

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Re: Chatham Convict Prison
« Reply #26 on: January 24, 2012, 06:21:36 »
I would guess that Kyn's map is the 1866 map with an 1879 overlay.

 

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