Featured Lock-up: Everton Lock-up

For Prison History‘s inaugural Featured Lock-up we’ve selected perhaps the most well-known one in the UK – Everton Lock-up.

Prince Rupert Tower for football badges blog

Image by Phil Nash from Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Recognisable to football fans around the world, Everton Lock-up or Prince Rupert’s Tower, has featured on Everton FC’s crest since 1938 and on their kit since 1978.

But what’s its history? Who was Prince Rupert? And how did Everton Lock-up make its way to Everton FC’s kit?

First of all, let’s clear up the timelines. Everton Lock-up opened in 1787 as a dedicated lock-up. Prince Rupert of the Rhine died over a hundred years earlier in London in 1682. So what links the two? Well, it’s the English Civil War.

Prince Rupert for Everton Lock-up blog

Portrait of Prince Rupert, Count Palatine (1619-1682) by Anthony van Dyck [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Of German and English royal blood, Prince Rupert was appointed the commander of the Royalist cavalry during the English Civil War. In June 1644 during the Siege of Liverpool, Prince Rupert set up camp on a hill called Everton Brow.  Clearly, Prince Rupert’s time upon Everton Brow was memorable as when Everton Lock-up was built 133 years later it quickly got the name Prince Rupert’s Tower.

Unfortunately, we do not know exactly how long Prince Rupert’s Tower was used for or when the lock-up fell out of use. However, it does appear to have been used during the 19th Century before modern policing methods made it redundant.

Still, this humble red sandstone building with its conical roof on Netherfield Road became iconic for the area of Everton. And that’s how it made its way on to Everton FC’s crest. According to the football team, Club Secretary Theo Kelly was asked to design a crest in 1938.

Everton FC bage for lock-up, prison & football badges blog - Image by Ronny K from Pixabay

Everton’s crest from the 2013-14 season – Image by Ronny K from Pixabay

“I was puzzling over it for four months,” Kelly said. “Then I thought of a reproduction of the ‘Beacon’ which stands in the heart of Everton.” And that Beacon is the humble Everton Lock-up, a temporary holding cell atop a hill in Liverpool, which is seen around the world every weekend in the football season.

So does Everton FC own Prince Rupert’s Tower?

While in 1997 the club donated £15000 to help repair the building, its current owner is Liverpool City Council. However, we understand that the lock-up is lit up at night in Everton colours. Can any readers confirm this? Better still, if this is true, do you have a picture we can use? Let us know on Twitter (@prisonhistoryUK) or get in touch!

Here at Prison History, we’d also like to hear about your stories regarding Prince Rupert’s Tower. Perhaps you have a family connection to the place or it has formed the backdrop to some happy memories? We’d love to hear your tales.

Finally, we’d like to hear more about the restoration of the building after the recent vandalism too.

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