Hull Prison to partially close

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It is with hand on heart that I must reveal the sad news that parts of Hull Prison are to close. 

The prison, which has a long history in Hull, was an improvement on the existing prison that was situated in Hull City Centre.  The foundation stone of the prison, or Hull Borough Gaol as it was originally known, was laid by the Mayor, Mr. H. J. Atkinson on the 9th of October 1865, with the prison opening in 1869.  It cost the Hull Corporation £89,000 and became the property of the government under the Government under the Prisons Act in 1878.  Initially the prison occupied 15 acres of land and was designed with the main corridors with cells were built as a cruciform.  This would enable the governor of the prison to stand in the centre and see down all the corridors.  At the time it was erected it consisted of cells to hold 347 prisoners, but this soon expanded to 505 cells, with 130 of these being used for females.  The architect who designed the prison died just one week before the prison was opened! 

The original Governor of Hull Borough Gaol was one Henry Webster, occasionally called Harry, who served at the Gaol from 1869 until August 1891 when he resigned due to ill health and moved to Australia.

Webster gave evidence during the Mary Jane Langley murder trial, and was also the Governor responsible for keeping Frederick Bailey Deeming in order during his nine months at the prison for defrauding Reynoldsons Jewellers on Whitefriargate in Hull.

Webster left Hull for Australia shortly after his resignation and lived down under until 1934.  Despite leaving Hull Borough Gaol on grounds of ill health, he lived to the ripe old age of 96.

Whilst Webster was in Australia he heard newspaper reports on Frederick Bailey Deeming and later identified Deeming as being known in Hull as Harry Lawson.  It was through Webster’s observations that the authorities in Rainhill were alerted to the fact that Deeming had been in the region, and through their swift acts they revealed that he had murdered his first wife and four children. 

Another notorious rogue during Henry Webster’s time at the prison was Joseph Dawber.  Dawber was the cousin of Robert D’Onston Stephenson, and was a Hull based solicitor.  He defrauded Hull residents out of their money with dodgy land deals and was eventually caught out and sent to Hull Gaol, appearing on the 1891 Census alongside Frederick Bailey Deeming.

Over the years the prison has played host to a wide range of criminals including Charles Bronson, Frankie Fraser, and Frank “The Mad Axe Man” Mitchell.

Most Hull readers will be well aware of Ethel Major’s stay at the Gaol.  Major was sentenced to death after poisoning her husband (and her dog) with her execution taking place on December 19th 1934.  Her body is buried in the prison along with Arthur Richardson, William James Bolton, Charles William, Thomas Siddle, John Freeman, William George Smith, Robert Ernest Dalton, George Michael, and Roy Gregory.

As you can imagine the site has a long history associated with Hull, and little by little we are in danger of losing it.


Hull Prison – Hull Daily Mail

Hull Prison – Hull Daily Mail

One Response to “Hull Prison to partially close”

  1. Trish Alan Says:

    Greetings! Very useful advice in this particular post! It is the little changes that produce the largest changes. Many thanks for sharing!

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