Ancestry UK

Town Gaol, Stockport, Cheshire

The Stockport Gaol/Lock-up was erected in 1791 and occupied a site on the Market Place, Stockport.

James Neild reported on the prison in 1812:

Gaoler, Thomas Barratt. Salary, 5l.

Number of Prisoners, 1809, Nov. 15th, Seven. Allowance, one pound of bread per day.

This Prison is for temporary confinement, and has, on the ground-floor, the Keeper's kitchen, parlour, &c. On the right hand, entering the house, is a dayroom, 13 feet 10 by 6 feet 9, and 8 feet high; and another day-room adjoining, 14 feet by 9, and 7 feet 6 inches high; with fire-places in both, and iron-grated windows, about 2 feet square.

Above stairs are two rooms for those Prisoners who can pay 1s. per night for beds. Others sleep in the two Dungeons, each 9 feet by 6, and 11 feet high, cut out of the rock, to which the descent is by 17 steps. They have wooden bedsteads, loose straw, two blankets, and a rug each; but are both damp, and very offensive.

The Keeper informed me by letter, 23d June, 1810, that no Prisoners sleep in the Dungeons now. Here is no court-yard, but the Prison is supplied with excellent water from a pump. The annual number of commitments is about four hundred.

In 1837, it was reported that:

There is a Lock-up-house within the borough; it was built in 1791 by subscription; chiefly from the town's-money, that is, from the subscription of the inhabitants, on a piece of the waste given by the lord; it has since been repaired and enlarged by the town, with the aid of the county. It is not used as a place of punishment, but only of temporary confinement; the keeper, J. S. Barratt, resides there, he is deputy constable of the town appointed under the Police Act, and as such he is paid out of the police rate, and as gaoler, out of the county rate. About 1,400 persons were confined there within the last year; they never remained longer than throe days, being either discharged or conveyed to the county gaols. The petty sessions of the division are held at Stockport, and the prison is the general depot for the 29 townships, which form the Stockport division of the hundred of Macclesfield. The lock-up house is strikingly neat and clean, and appears to be extremely well managed; and the keeper, an experienced gaoler, and the son of a gaoler, displays much zeal and activity, and that extraordinary fondness for the duties of his office which is only to be found in those who are thoroughly reconciled to an employment that is generally accounted disagreeable. The prodigious number of prisoners who are annually consigned for a short period to the care of the tenant of this small edifice seems to prove, that the magistracy of the district are more successful in the detection than in the prevention of crime, and that in this respect some amendment is earnestly to be desired.

One of the prison dungeons still exists and is opened for visits on the second Saturday of each month.


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