Kirkdale House of Correction

Local historian, Rob Keep, tells us some interesting facts about the the Kirkdale House of Correction.

“County House of Correction, Kirkdale” (Liverpool) engraved by W.Watkins after a picture by C.Pyne, published in Lancashire Illustrated, 1831. ©

This House of Correction was built in conjunction as many were, with a Sessions House, which opened in 1821, and where the Quarter Sessions of West Derby were held.

Its capacity from 1823 to 1842 was between 300 and just over 600.

Prisoners had to work, and the treadmill used for grinding corn was the largest in the country, needing the efforts of 130 prisoners a day to keep it running.

Kirkdale had one of the highest death rates in the country for a prison. A report written in 1844 produced the following information of its prisoners:

50 % unable to name months of the year
39% unable to name the reigning monarch
43% ignorant of the words ‘virtue’, ‘vice’ and ‘righteousness’.
15% unable to count to 100.

67 Executions were held here, the highest number being 4 at one time in 1861. Following the closure of the prison, their remains were transferred to local cemeteries, 5 to a grave.

The Prison closed in 1893, demolished, the building materials sold off in 1894. Walton Prison took over as the prime local prison for Liverpool. The site is now a recreation ground, with the path’s used now being those that were within the prison.

Acknowledgements and Further Reading:

Liverpool Mercury, Nov 9th 1857

Manchester Evening News, 5th March 1894

Tod Sloan, The Treadmill and the Rope: A History of a Liverpool Prison (The Gallery Press, 1988).

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