Ancestry UK

Borough Gaol, Warrington, Lancashire

The Warrington Borough Gaol was in existence by the sixteenth century and occupied a site on the west side of Millgate, approximately where the stepped entrance to the council offices is now located.

In 1837, the Inspectors of Prisons reported:

This prison consists of an insecure and dilapidated tenement in the town of Wigan, attached to other buildings, and liable to accident by fire. It contains two apartments or dungeons below ground, described as not being used; and I trust, for the sake of humanity, that this is the case. There are also two apartments in the second floor, for males and females.

Dungeon No. 1. — 17 ft. 6 in. by 8 ft. 6 in., 6 ft. high.
Dungeon No. 2. — 9 ft. by 6 ft., 5 ft. 10 in. high.
Females' Room. — 11 ft. by 5 ft. 3 in., 7 ft. 3 in. high.
Males' Room. — 16 ft. by l4 ft., 7 ft. high.

As many as 13 prisoners at a time have been confined in the apartment for males, and 3 women were in the one for females on the day of my inspection. There are no privies nor airing-yards. The prisoners are maintained out of the poor-rate. They only remain here during examination. The corporation contract with the county to receive their prisoiiers at the House of Correction at Kirkdale. The prison was dirty. Tobacco-smoking is permitted. The following are the number of prisoners, of all descriptions, who have passed through the Borough Gaol in the years

1833  612

This prison is seldom without an occupant, and considering the extent and character of the population, and the irremediable defects of site and arrangement as above described, a new prison seems absolutely requisite, the more particularly since the borough has obtained a grant of Quarter-sessions.

The bridewell site was subsequently converted for use as a police station. It was demolished in 1868 when the police station transferred to the Town Hall buildings on King Street.


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.