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County Gaol and Bridewell, Chelmsford, Essex

In 1822, construction began of a new Essex County Gaol and House of Correction at a site on Springfield Road, Chelmsford, to replace the existing gaol on Moulsham Street. Designed by Thomas Hopper, the new building had a detached radial layout, with seven wings arranged around, though separate from, a central hub building.

County Gaol and Bridewell, Chelmsford, Essex, early 1900s. © Peter Higginbotham

In 1837, the Inspectors of Prisons reported:

This is the principal gaol of the county of Essex for the reception of male prisoners committed for trial, and is also a house of correction for male convicts. Debtors and female prisoners are not confined in this prison, but in the old gaol at Chelmsford. This prison stands on a slight elevation at Springfield, about one mile from the town of Chelmsford. It is a brick building on the radiating plan, and is said to have cost about £56,000. It was first occupied in October 1825, and is in a good state of repair. The building is, for the most part, fire-proof, being constructed with iron beams. The wards are surrounded by an inner wall 30 feet high, and the outer, or boundary wall, is of the height of 20 feet; the area within the boundary wall is 4 acres and 70 roods. The keeper and turnkey's residences, with the chapel, are in the centre, and the prison is divided into seven radii, each containing two wards. These 14 wards contain 14 day-rooms, 204 single cells of the dimensions of 8 feet by 6½, and 14 large cells of the dimensions of 14 feet by 8; there are besides 3 infirmary, 2 lazaretto, and 2 reception-cells; making, in the whole, accommodation for 225 in separate sleeping apartments. The prison has capabilities for receiving 628 prisoners, sleeping more than one in a cell; and by placing three in a cell, and other arrangements, in case of emergency, it might be made to hold 1,151. The cells are in general close, and badly ventilated. The thickness of the partition-walls is 14 inches. The number of sleeping cells is sufficient for the separation by night of the average number, but the greatest number in custody for the last three years has been:—

Year ending Michaelmas 1834286
Ditto 1835302
Ditto 1836263

and at the time of our visit the number of prisoners was 238.

The means of inspection are very imperfect; they only extend to the yards, some of which can be seen from the windows of the turnkeys' apartments. The governors parlour, or keeping-room, is under ground, so that he can only see the legs of the staffman, the top of the walls, and the sky. But he usually sits in the magistrates' room to write, from whence he can see the front gate, all the yard No. 1, and a part of yard No. 2, but no more. The windows of the day-rooms look towards the central buildings, and are without blinds, so that the prisoners in the rooms are able to watch the movements and approach of the officers.

There have been lately two escapes from this prison, viz.—J. M., who got out of the vagrants' itch-room, and scaled the boundary wall; and J. C., who escaped from his cell in ward No. 13, by deceiving the turnkey, and appears to have scaled both the inner and outer wall. The particulars of these two cases are detailed in the extracts from the Keeper's Journal. The court of quarter-sessions has ordered the dismissal of the turnkey, from whose neglect of the written instructions of the keeper these escapes occurred, in default of payment of the sum of £10 offered as a reward for the capture of C. Such occurrences, however, indicate not only negligence, but some degree of insecurity in the prison itself; and they show the impropriety of leaving any boards or poles about prisons, which may facilitate the scaling of the walls.

The prison is not overlooked by, nor does it overlook, any other building. The soil on which it stands is the plastic clay. The drainage is good, and we found the prison dry and clean. The locality is considered healthy.

2.—Discipline, Management, &c.

This prison is governed by the provisional rules for the several prisons in the county of Essex, approved by His Majesty's Secretary of State for the Home Department in November 1836.

The system is that of association for the untried, and of associated labour in silence, commonly called the silent system, for the convicted; with separation by night, in both cases, so long as there is room for it. The classification of the Gaol Act is observed, except in the infirmaries; but when the number of any one class is greater than the number of cells in that ward, the surplus number is placed in separate cells in another ward belonging to a different class. Each convicted prisoner has the number of his cell and yard marked on his back, as well as on his clothes and bedding. At the time of our visit, it was observed that, exclusive of the infirmary, where four were together, three prisoners for trial on charge of felony had, in three instances, slept the previous night in one cell in yard No. 1; that three convicted misdemeanants had slept in the day-room of No. 2, and three untried in one cell in No. 14, viz. one on charge of housebreaking, and two on charge of stealing. The prisoners' clothes are taken out of their cells at night. The untried associate in considerable numbers. In the yard No. 13 we found 18 prisoners, committed for offences differing materially both in their nature and enormity, viz.—

W. P.Stealing a fowl,
S. M.Bestiality,
J. F.Burglary,
W. H.Sheep-stealing;

and, in the yard No. 14, 17 prisoners for trial, among whom were—

G. B.Highway robbery,
G. W.Housebreaking,,
W. W.Burglary,
W. H.Rape;
G. S.Stealing a board.

In yard No. 1 were 20 prisoners for trial, among whom were—

W. J.Forgery,
C. S.Burglary,
B. B.Stealing peas.

The association leads to the ordinary results,—idle conversation, and sometimes bad language, swearing, and mutual corruption. The prisoners sell provisions to each other, and have been known to steal from each other. Any loud noise is punished if heard by the officers, and to this the return of punishments for breach of silence must be understood to relate, for strict silence is not required.

Silence is prescribed for the observance of the convicted, by the 33rd provisional rule. In order to enforce it during labour, two staffmen (prisoners) are stationed in each tread-wheel yard, one of whom parades up and down by the wheel, and the turnkey is in and out occasionally. The staffman, however, does not look up to the wheel, and consequently does not always see the prisoners when they talk. That they do talk may be seen by any person who remains five minutes in the yard, and it is admitted by the governor and officers; but the governor's opinion is, that the communication is confined to matters of curiosity, and cannot extend to contamination. Be that as it may, the Silent System is, in this prison, very loosely enforced, from the want of a sufficient staff of officers, as well as of the means of inspection. The prisoners on the wheel are allowed to look round, and often loll upon it in a lounging way. When off the wheel they may walk round the yard in single file, three feet apart, or sit down to rest at stations 15 feet apart; but it is by no means uncommon for them to converse whilst walking. The governor admits very candidly that the prisoners do communicate, not only on the wheel and whilst walking the yards, but during washing, whilst at meals in their cells, in going to chapel, at chapel, and occasionally at night. He considers that it would be possible to enforce the system with much more rigour if an addition were made to the number of officers and to the means of inspection; as, for instance, by placing a turnkey's lodge at the end of each of the seven radii, so as to overlook two yards. At present the number of punishments is comparatively few; the total number inflicted in the year ending Michaelmas 1836 was 117, and in the six months ending 31st December 1836 it was 94. It appears that, in the said six months, only five tried prisoners were punished for what is called "breach of silence," one for "not walking the yard in silence," and one for "talking on the wheel." Those who are conversant with the working of the silent system in prisons where it is rigidly enforced, and are aware of the great number of punishments which are absolutely necessary to attain that end, will at once draw the conclusion that the System, as practised in this prison, is a very loose one. The statements made to us by prisoners whom we examined all confirm that conclusion.

Solitary confinement is used in this prison as a punishment, by sentence of courts, to a considerable extent, 76 prisoners having been so sentenced in the year ending Michaelmas 1836. Such sentences rarely exceed one month at a time, and are sometimes apportioned so that the separation takes place partly at the beginning, and partly at the end of the term of imprisonment. The treatment in solitary confinement is regulated by the provisional rules, which provide that prisoners sentenced for 14 days shall be confined in their cells for the whole period, and those for one month shall pass the first seven days in their cells, and be afterwards allowed to walk the passages. The rules, however, allow so much exercise in the yards as may be prescribed by the surgeon as requisite for health. The small size and bad ventilation of the present cells render them scarcely fit for separate confinement, even for the short periods mentioned; but there is space within the boundary wall, within which new cells of the requisite size might be constructed. The crank machine is used in the cell, when the prisoner under separation is sentenced to labour. The keeper exercises a discretion in occasionally placing in separate cells boys whose contamination is apprehended, or prisoners under examination.

The hard labour consists in eight tread-wheels, one crank pump, and three Richmond's crank machines for work in solitude. The tread-wheel labour varies from 6 to 10 hours a-day, and from 10,800 to 18,000 feet of ascent, according to the season. The crank-wheel is regarded as less severe than the tread-wheel; its ordinary revolutions are 1,000 per hour, so that the daily number performed by each prisoner varies from 6,000 to 10,000, according to the number of working hours. The physical effect of the tread-wheel labour will be adverted to under the head of "Health." The profits of the mill and shoe-making, the only productive kinds of labour, were only £151. 12s. 4d. in the last year, which were applied in aid of the county rate. The mill-house is situated in the tread-wheel yard No. 6, and has no access except through that yard; a circumstance which causes interruptions, and might afford opportunities of communication from without.

At the time of our inspection, 16 prisoners were employed as yardsmen and staffmen, and 11 in other menial offices, together 27, being 11 per cent, upon the whole number in custody. Prisoners before and after trial, and convicted of felony and misdemeanor, are indiscriminately selected for these services, according to their supposed qualifications for them, and as a reward for good conduct in prison. A prisoner committed on charge of murder, who has been insane, but now appears recovered, and is employed in the bakehouse. The prisoner C. S., described as staffman in the middle yard, we found keeping the keys of the two gates between the outer and the inner yard, a trust which ought not to have been reposed in any prisoner. The keeper has no confidence in the yardsmen in general; and, indeed, it would be strange if he had; for, besides the frequency of their overlooking the misconduct of prisoners, they are often guilty of misconduct themselves. The following are a few instances:—

1826, Sept. 15.—J. W., yardsman, detected in imposing upon prisoners; giving half an ounce of tobacco for a loaf; is oppressive, unkind to the sick, &c.

1828, Feb. 18.—Locked up W. i . assistant to the miller, for stealing flour from the mill.

1829, June 29.—W. C., yardsman of No. 2, guilty of extortion and other improprieties. It was proved that he bought and sold bread and beer of and to the prisoners, and also clothes; and in a box belonging to R. P. found 35s., which, after much prevarication, was acknowledged to belong to W. C., and was the produce of his traffic.

1831, Nov. 6.—D., a prisoner employed in cooking, was detected conveying gruel to a solitary prisoner.

1832, Oct. 9.—Locked up J. C., employed in a domestic office, for receiving tobacco of a prisoner when first brought in, and concealing the same.

1833, Dec. 14.—Locked up T. S., yardsman of No. 6, for smuggling tobacco, and imposing on the prisoners by extorting money from them. J. S., the felons' barber, having assisted S. in his extortions, was put upon the tread-wheel.

1834, Feb. 3.—H., a prisoner employed in filling the beds with straw, obtained loaves from the prisoners employed in baking, which he convoyed into the prison concealed in the straw in the beds.

1836, Aug. 21.—Locked up several men employed in the bakehouse, &c.; two loaves of bread having been found in a pail of sand about to be given into yard No. 14.

1836, Nov. 20.—Locked up J. S. for gambling and stealing money from T. M., a prisoner in the lazaretto under the surgeon's care, whom S. attended as nurse.

1837, Jan. 5.—Locked up H. C. and J. S., yardsmen in Nos. 7 and 8, for throwing snowballs at each other, and neglecting to watch the men on the wheels.

Visitors are admitted to see prisoners in the visiting-rooms near the entrance lodge, according to the provisional rules, reg. 18 to 24. The turnkey is present. The keeper exercises a discretionary power in case of pretended relationship, which it is not always possible to prevent. Visitors have been detected in bringing money to prisoners, concealed in all kinds of ways, viz. in soap, in the handle of a saucepan, in the buttons of waistcoats, in bread, in puddings, and in oranges. All letters, since the new rules, are inspected by the keeper, the propriety of which is strongly confirmed by an instance which once occurred in this prison of an attorney being detected in corresponding at the same time with two prisoners,—one the thief in his yard, and the other the receiver, placed for separation in the infirmary—in such a way that notes passed, in consequence, between the two prisoners, tending to defeat the ends of justice.

The provisional rules prohibit money to convicted prisoners, but allow the untried, maintaining themselves, to have such money as belongs to them, by instalments of 2s. 6d. per week. We find that money has lately been introduced into the prison, in violation of the rules, to some extent, through the instrumentality of David Mead, a turnkey, who absconded on the 2d January last, with £4. l0s., belonging to a prisoner. This turnkey used to go to a public house, and obtain the money which prisoners had desired to be sent there for them. The particulars of his misconduct are stated under the head of "Officers." It should also be noticed that in the year 1830 George Willis, the present miller, was charged before the visiting magistrates with conveying money to the prisoners, and deriving a profit to himself from such conveyance. The magistrates thought the charge established, and directed the discharge of the miller, but for the reason stated under the head of Officers "he still remains in the service of the prison.

The use of tobacco is prohibited by the provisional rules; but it has been frequently introduced both before and since their date. As much as a pound of tobacco a-day is stated to have been brought in by the said late turnkey, Mead; it has been occasionally introduced by visitors, and sometimes has been thrown over the boundary wall into the yards, though not very lately.

Cases of gambling have occurred in consequence of the introduction of money, as in the instance of the prisoner Slaughter, who was detected in it; but gaming cannot be said to be prevalent, although the prisoners in association amuse themselves by playing with chalk, buttons, &c. In December last the keeper found two packs of cards, and a cribbage-board, in the turnkeys' room, which he burned, as illegal.

Newspapers are forbidden by the rules, and do not appear to be introduced, nor any books unauthorized by the chaplain.

There seems to have been some disposition to mutiny in this prison, on more than one occasion. On 29th June 1832, C. J. M., a prisoner in No. 14, gave information that it was arranged by the rest of the prisoners to seize the governor and turnkey when inspecting the prison, and the question was discussed as to the legality of the gaoler shooting a prisoner. On the 19th December 1833 eighteen convicts conspired to escape, by breaking open the pew doors in the chapel, taking the keys away, and proceeding to the gate, seizing the porter, and letting themselves out. These occurrences have made the keeper feel the necessity of being constantly prepared against an attack.

3. Religious and other Instruction.

The chaplain is the Rev. John Hickley Lewis. He is 30 years of age, and resides about two miles from the prison. He is also chaplain of the old gaol at Chelmsford. He reads prayers, selected from the Liturgy, in the chapel daily, at a quarter before nine, then proceeds to Chelmsford gaol, and afterwards returns here, when he goes round and visits the prisoners for an hour or two. He sees all the prisoners who are in solitary confinement, or under punishment, several times in the week. The morning and evening services of the church of England are performed on Sundays, when a sermon is delivered. The Holy Communion has never been administered in this prison, except to convicts under sentence of death. The chaplain keeps a journal, but no character book. The chapel is too small, having been originally built for 60 prisoners, and not having been altered since: as more than 300 sometimes assemble in it, it is not only crowded in a disorderly way but often very offensive, especially in hot weather. The inspection is also imperfect; and the officers' seats are so placed that all the prisoners can see and watch the officers, and could, if they pleased, drop anything from the gallery upon their heads. They have thrown stones into the governor's pew on two occasions. The prisoners have to pass from their respective yards through the middle yard, and in their way pass other yards, by which means communication can be readily kept up.

The prisoners are occasionally detected in communicating during chapel, as well as in the way to it. A list of absentees from the chapel is kept daily, and shown to the chaplain, who inquires into the cause of absence. The keeper, and two or three of the turnkeys, attend chapel regularly; but, on Sundays, the keeper is in the habit of going round the prison to examine the cells, &c., during divine service, so that he is not present the whole time.

The books are under the entire supervision of the chaplain, and consist of Bibles, Prayer books, and tracts selected from the publications of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

One of the turnkeys on the establishment is employed at schoolmaster, and is engaged in instructing prisoners for about four hours a-day. Prisoners before trial are taught in classes in their day-rooms, and the convicted assemble in the chapel in classes of from three to about twenty each. They are taught reading and spelling, and occasionally writing on slates. During school the prisoners have opportunities of talking, and sometimes converse. The great majority of prisoners being confined for terms of two and three months, and under, there is not sufficient time for the instruction to produce, in general, any moral effect.

4. Health.

There are three surgeons, practising in Chelmsford, who are appointed to attend the prison in rotation, in alternate years. The provisional rules require the surgeon to visit the prison twice at least in every week, and oftener if necessary, and see every prisoner—to keep a journal —and, upon notice from the keeper, to attend to examine prisoners on admission before they are passed into their wards. We regret, however, to be obliged to state, that the attendance of the surgeons of this prison appears to have been by no means regular for some time past. The surgeon in rotation had, we found, only attended ten times between the 3rd of January and the 12th of February last, (the time of our visit,) having delegated his duties to a youthful assistant, whose qualifications for so important an office were very doubtful. It is the practice to make out a sick-list, containing the names of such prisoners as say they wish to see the surgeon; and the surgeon visits those whose names are on such list, but no others, whether in solitary cells or otherwise. Nor is it the custom to send for the surgeon immediately on the admission of a prisoner, so that he is passed into the ward without medical examination. On going through the keeper's journal for several years, we have found instances from time to time recorded, indicative of negligence on the part of the surgeons, and that, in consequence, the keeper has been obliged to exercise a discretion, in cases of sudden illness, and of punishment, which does not properly fall within the limits of his duty. The surgeon for the present year has not kept the journal in the form required by the visiting justices, but has merely signed his name on the occasion of his attendance.

The infirmaries are placed in the angles of the front boundary-wall, and are consequently remote from the rest of the prison. Silence is not enforced, and the only supervision is that of the nurse, a prisoner, with occasional visits of a turnkey. We found three sick prisoners in the infirmary, and one in the adjoining lazaretto-room, under sentence of transportation, but unfit to be removed on account of a peculiar complaint in his face.

We found 31 prisoners on the casual sick-list, and a short time previous about 70 had been affected by the prevailing influenza. In the year ending Michaelmas 1836 the proportion of cases of slight indisposition to the whole number in confinement was 35 per cent.; that of infirmary cases 8.48 per cent.; and of deaths .34 per cent. The most prevalent disease is one deserving very serious attention, inasmuch as it is clearly the result of hard labour for too protracted periods, with inadequate diet,—namely, scurvy, or Purpura hæmorrhagica. This disease may be described to be a state in which the blood dissolves, and the serum, which is the vehicle for transmitting the red particles, separates and deposits itself elsewhere. The constitution is in a condition of decay, and, as the first symptoms of it, the gums become swelled and spongy, and the legs are cramped and painful, with red spots appearing on them. The disease usually appears alter several months of tread-wheel labour, the period varying according to the constitution of the prisoner; and it very rarely happens that a prisoner can stand the wheel for 12 months, or even nine, months, without his health suffering. The scurvy will generally yield to a more nutritious diet, and to tonics and acids, but, after an interval, it will often break out again in die same patient. It first appeared in this prison in the year 1826; in 1827 it prevailed to an alarming extent; and it has continued, more or less, to affect the prisoners down to the present time. We saw several prisoners having the symptoms above described at the time of our inspection. We regret to be obliged to add that cases have occurred in which it is too plain that this disease has been mistaken by the medical attendants. We have carefully perused a mass of documentary evidence, which we thought it right to call for, consisting of journals, post-mortem examinations, &c., and which leave no doubt in our minds upon this head, and upon the real nature and causes of the disease. The great length of these documents alone prevents us from appending them to this Report. That the scurvy in this prison is attributable to the combined effect of hard labour, with inadequate and insufficiently-varied diet, is further evident from the fact of no such disorder existing in the old gaol at Chelmsford, which is damp, and in local respects less healthy than Springfield, but where there is no tread-wheel labour. The Springfield diet was increased after the great prevalence of scurvy in 1827, and is now fixed, by the provisional rules, at l½ lb. of bread daily, with a quart of gruel; after one month's confinement, another 1½ oz. of oatmeal in the gruel, or 2 oz. of boiled rice; after three months a pint of meat soup, instead of the extra oatmeal or rice, three times a-week; and for prisoners actually engaged in hard labour, an extra allowance of 4 oz. of bread and 2 oz. of cheese. The provisional rules head per annum is stated at £4. 6s. 10d, or 1s. l0¼d. per week.

Prisoners before trial, not able wholly to maintain themselves, are allowed, in addition to the gaol allowance, to receive provisions from their friends, or to purchase to the amount of 2s. 6d. per week. They may purchase as much as a quart of beer per day. It appears that for tobacco. The misconduct of the late turnkey, Mead, in assisting the prisoners to obtain money, led to various abuses of this description.

The cost of the prison clothing and bedding together are returned at £2. 14s. 9d. per head per annum. There is only one woollen dress, purchased from a London clothier; with a distinction by stripes for felons. There is no variation in summer, except that stockings are then not worn. The prisoners are always punished when detected in destroying their clothing or bedding; and it occurs not unfrequently.

Each prisoner is supplied with a straw mattress, two blankets, and a rug. Some years ago apprehensions were entertained that the stone bedsteads were not healthy; but a number of prisoners being examined on the subject, their testimony was almost unanimous that they preferred stone to iron bedsteads, as being warmer. The bedding is aired in the yards in fine weather, but not through the winter.

Every prisoner washes his own shirt in the yard. There are washing-places in the yards for four prisoners at a time: soap, towels, and combs are allowed; but the latter are generally broken and dirty.

The prison is whitewashed several times a-year; the rooms and cells are washed frequently, according to the weather. The prison appeared generally clean at the time of inspection.

5. Prison Punishments.

The number of punishments inflicted in the year ending Michaelmas 1836 was 117, or about 10 per cent, upon the whole number in confinement in the year; a very small proportion, compared to that in some other prisons where the Silent System is in force.

The instrument of whipping is a cat-o'-nine-tails. On a late occasion (17th Jan. 1837), when a prisoner was whipped with 50 lashes, pursuant to his sentence, the surgeon was sent for by the Keeper, but did not attend, sending "his compliments to the keeper, and hoped he could do without him." The prisoner's father being waiting at the gate to receive him on his discharge, the flogging was not postponed, and was therefore performed without the surgeon's presence.

6. Officers.

The keeper is Mr. Thomas Charles Neale, who has governed this prison from the time of its erection. He gives security to the sheriff to the amount of £3,000. He is also keeper of the old gaol at Chelmsford, about a mile from Springfield, and is consequently obliged to devote a portion of his time to the service of that gaol. This arrangement is highly improper as regards this prison, and contrary to law, as regards Chelmsford gaol, which has thus no resident keeper.

The keeper, three turnkeys, and porter, reside in the prison, with one of two turnkeys who reside out of it, but perform the night-duty alternately, and two watchmen, for the staff at night. The principal turnkey does not reside in the prison. We submit, however, that, in a large prison like this, it would be desirable that he should do so, as the occasional absence of the keeper with convicts for transportation, &c., is unavoidable.

The misconduct of David Mead, lately one of the turnkeys, who absconded the 2nd January last, with money belonging to prisoners, has boon the cause of great irregularities for some time past; he having been in the habit of introducing money, tobacco, and provisions, in violation of the rules, and having actually proposed to two prisoners to join him in committing a robbery. The magistrates, considering that they had no power to punish this man for breach of duty, issued a warrant against him for fraud upon the prisoners. He, however, effected his escape, and, if he should be taken, there is some doubt whether an indictment will lie against him; consequently, it is probable that he may escape punishment altogether.

The case of George Willis, one of the turnkeys, and employed as miller, requires remark. In the year 1830 charges were preferred against this officer by the keeper, for conveying money to the prisoners, and deriving a profit to himself from such conveyance. The charge* were investigated by four visiting magistrates, who, upon the evidence of four prisoners, determined that the charges were established to their satisfaction, and directed that the miller should be discharged. He was, however, befriended by a magistrate, since deceased, who, contending that the testimony of the prisoners ought not to have been received, and that the Court of Quarter Sessions alone had power to dismiss an officer, prevailed upon the other magistrates to rescind their order of dismissal, and the miller has remained in the service to this day. This case appears to show the necessity of there being some more summary power of removing officers than that vested in the Court of Quarter Sessions by the 25th section of the Gaol Act, 4 Geo. IV. The provisional rules for this prison, indeed, enable the keeper to suspend an inferior officer until the next meeting of the visiting magistrates. The turnkey who suffered the escape of the prisoners Monk and Cordery was ordered by the court to pay the reward of £10 offered for the recovery of the latter, who was retaken, or to be dismissed j and he has, we understand, paid the penalty and retained his situation.

7. Miscellaneous.

From the Returns the total population of the prison appears to have been—

On 13th February 1835277
"     1836233
"     1837238

The total number committed in the course of the last three years has been—

Year ending Michaelmas 18341,309
"     18351,171
"     18361,012

At the time of our inspection there was a prisoner, George Risby, committed 7th August 1834, on charge of murder, who had been insane, but was stated to be no longer so, and had no appearance of insanity. He was employed as baker and cook. There was also an idiotic prisoner, John Aldham, aged 20, confined in yard No. 12, for want of bail to keep the peace. He appeared to be an unfit subject for a prison; but, as he cannot find sureties, he is likely to remain here, perhaps, for years.

The proportion of persons previously committed to the whole number committed, in the year ending Michaelmas 1836, is returned at no less than 49 per cent. The proportion of offenders not exceeding the age of 17, in the same year, was 10.56 per cent.

The usual allowances of 6d. per day for military prisoners, and 4½d. per day for smugglers, are received; and, if the latter are sentenced to hard labour, the Board of Customs allows 6d. per day.

Debtors are not confined in this gaol, but exclusively in the old gaol at Chelmsford.

So long as the Silent System is professed as an instrument of corrective discipline in this prison, it will be obvious, from what has been stated, that it ought to be enforced with far greater rigour than at present, and that an addition to the number of officers, and to the means of inspection, will for such purpose, be indispensable. If a system of extended separation be introduced, a very considerable alteration and enlargement of the prison must be anticipated. Considering the bad state of the old gaol at Chelmsford, and the probable necessity of soon discontinuing it, an opportunity may, before long, present itself of erecting a new county prison for the individual separation of prisoners.

No. 18.—Dietary.

The soup is made of two ounces of meal to the pint, with half a pint of peas and a sufficient quantity of pepper and salt to each gallon.

The gruel and rice is made according to the prison rules.

No. 19.—Tread-wheel labour.

There are gyrometers attached to the wheels, but they are not now in operation, The calculations are made from observation and numerous experiments made for the purpose in the course of several years, compared with Bale's sliding scale for tread-wheel labour.

The velocity of the wheels is subject to variation, and depends on the quantity of corn with which the miller feeds the stones.

The velocity is also affected by the number and weight of the prisoners employed; but this is in a great measure provided against by having regulators, which can be attached to two of the wheels, so that two men, or three boys, will perform the same number of revolutions as a larger number of men, but great precision cannot be attained even by these means.

No. 20.—Scale of Crank-labour.

There is also a crank-pump for supplying the prison with water, at which 18 men can work; but the revolutions are very irregular, depending on the number, the strength, and the inclination of the prisoners. The highest number of revolutions in a day, recorded by the gyrometer, is 16,275 in 10 hours. The cranks are 7 feet 9 inches each in the clear. There are also two capstans, at each of which 32 men can be employed when not sentenced to hard labour. The greatest number of revolutions in 10 hours, recorded by the gyrometer, is 1,918.

The distance which each man travels will, of course, vary with the distance at which he works from the centre of the capstan; the radius from the centre to the end of each bar, is 7 feet 11 inches; the diameter of the drum-head of the capstan, 2 feet 10½ inches. Four men can conveniently work at Each bar, and there are eight bars to each capstan. One man can turn either of the capstans with ease; they are connected with the tread-wheel flies, and are not applied to any useful purpose.
31st Dec. 1836.

In 1878, following the nationalisation of the prison system, the gaol became Her Majesty's Prison Chelmsford. From 1914 until 1931 it was taken over for uses as a military gaol.

The prison is still in operation, accommodating adult male prisoners and young offenders, convicted or on remand direct from courts in the area.


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