Thursday, 26 January 2017

Reading Prison

Rather than give you the history I found on Reading Prison on Wiki I've linked it so you can read but basically Reading prison was built in 1844 on the site of the old Reading Goal, probably the most notable prisoner was Oscar Wilde . It finally closed in 2013. Last year there was an artist exhibition on I went along to see with my wife, in truth I wanted to see the prison as I went to school next door to it. Black & white photos were sourced of the internet along with the drawing. 

The prison and from the carriage I 'd say some time after it opened in the 1800's

The cars look like they are from the 1950's in the next two photos

which is how I remember seeing the prison

Sometime in the 1970's they redesigned it and it became even uglier


with new brick wall and the front cleared for carpark. It did not help that Reading Council was also building the IDR (Inner Distribution Road) so widened the road in front taking land from both prison and nearby St James Church

The photo above is a stitch showing the prison walls and carpark. On the right we are inside the walls

Razor wire tops the walls and the mark you see on the ground mid photo was where a did was done on reading Abbey, the prison is built on the old Abbey

Not sure I would attempt to climb the wall with this lot

This is a fenced off exsersize yard

Above the entrance to the prison on the left, and right part of the Abbey dig. I was told it had stopped because they had found some Human Bones.

Above the long walk in and the bars that keep you there. On the right you are looking along one of the wings of the prison

Down another of the wings

In the first wing I showed there was a exhibition of photos showing former prisoners that were interned here, most of them were only kept a couple of weeks and were re-offenders. One in the photo was a girl as young as 12. People were in for between 10-20 days doing hard labour. Picking Oakum was no fun

Picking Oakum  Picture sourced of History House

Another little joy for them was Crank Labour. like you see winding a crank around which did nothing and the wardens could crank up the pressure as well

Above one of the cells with bed and washbasin, the toilet is behind the screen at the end. On the left is a artist drawing from when th eplace first opened

Above the bars mean you are not getting out on the right the other levels above the one I am stood in

Shower cubicle's

The two photos above show a cell and the stares you climb up to the next level. The drawing looks like it is from one of the inmates who was here

as I said there were artists showing there work off some was passable as art this room was full of photos and some show showed a guy masturbating which is not what I call art, not impressed

This is the second level where Oscar Wilde world have been held

In one cell there was a picture of Oscar and a smaller one of some one else, this was more like art to me

The cell looked a little depressing I feel

The stares from a balcony and a look along the landing, the netting is there to stop the prisoners tossing there fellow inmates over the side

Above looking down on the photo exhibition, and the right are the books Oscar Wilde had in his cell

I doubt this was the table he had though

Nor did his cell look like this with all these books

Above is Oscar Wilde's cell though when he was here there would have been no metal bed of toilet facility's, most likely a wooden bed with  straw mattress a chair and a bucket in the corner. On the right is the floor he was on which I doubt has changed much in all that time

Above we are looking out of what I thing was the prison wardens office and on the left is the old chapel which was destroyed in a fire and converted to a recreation hall and subject of part of the art exhibition

The door is the subject and stands in front of a concrete plinth the same dimensions as a cell in Reading Prison. The door is the original form Oscar Wilde's cell and what he would have looked at. On the right you can see the windows of the old chapel

Above the main window looking into the top floor of a wing which you can see on the left

Looking down the stare case to the ground floor and out the window to the exercise yard

Above a drawing showing how they exercised in Victorian times, they had to wear a hood like you see so they could not see their fellow inmates or talk to them. Think we went wrong some where because they don't do that now. On the left we look across the centre of the three wings

Above you can look down the stare case to the first wing I went in and on the right the bars that kept the secure prisoners in solitary

Back to the first floor and I might add below the ground floor were more cells that were used for solitary confinement and where they were kept in the dark as punishment pack in Victorian times. Unfortunately we did not see them

Above another view through one of the windows where you can just see the abbey ruins, the tall building is called the Blade . On the right we look up to the top of the central part of the prison

so that  is it we are now on the way out

A sight may prisoners had to wait to see.

If you remember I said in my opening I went to school next door, well the window you see on the right was one of the classrooms I was in, used to look out over the walls to the prison. The school is now a pre school nursery and over a bit more to the left you can see the Abbey Ruins. That's it for my trip round the prison. It was interesting to see but a place I am glad I never have been a guest of.
I think it would be good if they did some more tours of the place as it was interesting for me and I'm sure many more people would like to see it. I'm not sure as to what will become of it in the future but we will see.