Ancestry UK

Onley Borstal, Barby, Northamptonshire

In December 1968, the new Onley Borstal Institution came into operation at a site to the west of Barby, Northamptonshire. Its role was that of a Recall Centre — a 'corrective establishment for those who persistently misbehave.'

In November 1969, a local newspaper reported:

Eight years after being first mooted the £1 million Borstal on the site of the old Barby Camp, near Rugby, is to be opened later this month.

The building is to be known as H.M. Borstal, Onley, taking the name of a district in Barby parish which was previously perpetuated in Onley Lane, Onley Fields and Onley Grounds.

It will accommodate 300 boys, the first 60 of whom are expected to be received in the first week in December.

Technically a Borstal recall centre, Onley will take youths who have left a Borstal training centre and who have either come again before the court or who have failed to satisfy the probation and aftercare service during the two years after their discharge.

Sixty boys a week will be admitted until the accommodation is full. The Governor, Mr. R. E. Adams, who entered the Borstal service 21 years ago, comes from Gaynes Hall Borstal, Huntingdonshire.

Lord Stonham, Home Office Under-Secretary responsible for penal affairs, will formally open Onley Borstal on November 26. On the following day local people who are interested in the institution will be invited to look round it.

It is almost a small village of houses, bungalows and hostel, spread out over 75 acres. There are seven miles of security fencing and screening. The main building incorporates classrooms, cell blocks, detention block, assembly hall, chapels, hospital, kitchen and an exercise yard.

In 1975, the site was transitioned from a borstal to a training centre for short-term young offenders. The following year, construction was completed of a new cell block which increased the site's capacity to 420 places. Long-term young prisoners were subsequently included in the intake of the establishment, which was renamed HM Prison Onley.

In 2001, the privately run Rye Hill men's prison was opened on an adjacent site at the east of Onley. In 2004, the Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre, holding boys and girls aged 12 to 18, and also privately run, was opened on land to its west.


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.