Ancestry UK


A lock-up was a very small prison, used for the short-term accommodation of someone before they were transferred to larger premises, such as a county gaol, or brought before a local magistrate, or just to cool off, perhaps after causing a disturbance.

Lock-ups could be stand-alone buildings or incorporated into a larger building such as town hall or police station. The distinction between lock-ups and town gaols can become blurred, the former sometimes degenerating into the latter.

A mid-18th centry lock-up at Hawarden, Flintshire. © Peter Higginbotham

The old town hall at Skipton. West Yorkshire. © Peter Higginbotham


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