Ancestry UK

Bullwood Hall Borstal / HM Prison, Hockley, Essex

Bullwood Hall was a purpose-built closed female Borstal Institution, opened in 1962 at the south side of High Road at Hockley, Essex. The establishment, which cost £300,000, replaced existing borstals at Durham, Manchester and Cardiff. Up to eighty young women, aged between 16 and 21, were housed within its 12-feet-high walls topped with barbed wire.

In its early years, Bullwood Hall gained a reputation as being a 'tough girls' institution and there were frequent reports of smashed windows, damaged cells, and violence between inmates or by inmates towards staff.

In around 1983, the site became Her Majesty's Prison Bullwood Hall, housing up to forty women inmates.

In 2006, it was announced that, due to a shortage of male prison places, the Bullwood Hall was to be converted into a Category C male prison.

The prison was closed at the end of March 2013, one of seven UK prisons that were closed at around that time. In 2015, site was then sold for redevelopment as a housing estate. The old prison buildings have now been demolished.


Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.


  • Prison Oracle - resources those involved in present-day UK prisons.
  • GOV.UK - UK Government's information on sentencing, probation and support for families.