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Offline Leofwine

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Re: Chatham Convict Prison
« Reply #42 on: September 06, 2017, 21:51:04 »
Maidstone Telegraph - Saturday 11 March 1871

A ST. VITUS' DANCING CONVICT.—The medical officer of Chatham prison, in his last report to the directors of the convict prisons, thus speaks of a convict who feigned insanity in order to escape work—"In the first instance, in April he refused to work, and then refused food till he fainted in the cells. He was then taken to the infirmary, where he refused to speak, and allowed himself to be fed with a spoon. He was violent at times, grinding his teeth, and even requiring restraint. He ate his food at last voraciously nearly to choking himself, and put his body in constant motion as if sufferirig from St. Vitus's dance. On visiting him his body was always in motion, and even on inspecting him through the door in a small ward containing four prisoners no alteration was detected, but he slept well, and during sleep those movements were absent, which led me to believe they were assumed, though such perseverance must have given him considerable trouble. The general belief in the prison and of several medical men who saw him that he was insane, but on a prisoner being found with some bread trafficking in the ward, and stating that he believed this prisoner to be sane, a nurse was sent to order him to get up immediately, as the doctor had found out. On this he rose from his bed and confessed that he had been feigning, charging the other prisoner as an accomplice, and with having encouraged him to persevere. This was one month after his having been placed under supervision; and during the whole of this period he had never spoken, but acted the part of a lunatic whom he had witnessed on former occasions."
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Offline Leofwine

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Re: Chatham Convict Prison
« Reply #41 on: September 04, 2017, 19:58:43 »
North Devon Journal - Thursday 12 January 1871

Fatal Accident at Chatham Dockyard.—During the time the convicts employed on the works in connection with the construction of the additial [sic] docks and basins at this dockyard were engaged at their work, a sad accident occurred to one of the number named Charles Honest, who is undergoing a sentence of seven years' penal servitude. At the time of the occurrence the convict was engaged attending the laden waggons on the tramway, when, as he was doing so, he either fell or was knocked down between the rails, when the waggon passed over him, cutting both his legs from his body. He was immediately conveyed to the infirmary the convict prison; but from the nature the accident he is not expected survive the shock to the system. The unfortunate man would have been discharged on Monday next, on the completion of his sentence of penal servitude.

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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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