Lock-up House for Liberty of Ripon

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Overview

Nation   England

County   Yorkshire

Location   Duck Hill  Ripon

Map location   exact or closely approximate

Year opened   1836

Year closed   1877

Century of Operation   1800-1899

Building Type   Lock-Up

Remarks   Built and opened August 1836 by Ripon Borough Council. The Duck Hill Lock-up is actually under the pavement of Kirkgate (which can be seen above it). Also used by the Police Office in High Skellgate. In 1877, a new police stationed opened in Kirkgate, above the Duck Hill lock-up. The new police station had four cells.

Descriptions

'This lock up house, consisting of 2 cells, was built about 13 years ago, and is connected with an older building, in which the keeper resides. The cells are each 10 feet 9 inches long, 7 feet wide, and 8 feet high ... The cells are damp but not cold, as there is a provision for warming them. There are some small holes in the doors for the admisson of air, but there are no windows. In each cell there is a drain, which I was told was sometimes rather offensive.'

Inspectors of Prisons of Great Britain II. Northern and Eastern District, Fifteenth Report (Parl. Papers, 1850, XXVIII.291), p.51

'The Lock-up was built for, and belonged to Ripon Corporation. It is located on Duck Hill, under the pavement. Ripon?s first Police-Office was at the bottom of High Skellgate. The first mention of a Police-Office in Ripon, is from August 1863, but this may be misleading as the Council didn't consider the matter until December 1866 when the issue of a pay increase for Superintendent Burniston was raised. The Mayor thought it very desirable, in case they agreed to later it, that Mr. Burniston should live more in the centre of the town, as he was very much out of the way at his present residence in Borrage-lane; and if the Council would take a house in the city for him, which should contain conveniences for a sort of police-room in addition, and expend the proposed increase in salary in payment of the rent, it would be a very great convenience to the superintendent and themselves, and a most desirable improvement. The Lock-Up on Duck Hill on was originally administered by Thomas Dinsdale, the Serjeant at Mace. He is listed on the 1841 census as the Warder. He lived, rent free, in the 'Council House' which is the building at the top of the steps seen in the photo. Dinsdale was "paid the sum of thirty pounds and be permitted the occupation as his residence of a sufficient part of the Council House, he finding coals and candles which may be required at the several Meetings of the Council and keeping the Council Room sufficiently clean and dry. He was succeeded by Samuel Harrison, a former schoolmaster, who lived at 5 Hall Yard, Kirkgate. The Police-Office in High Skellgate was frequently criticised in inspections. In 1871 the Inspector, Captain Elgee said "that the cells to the Hall Yard were unsuitable". He strongly recommended the mayor to bring the matter before the Council at once, with a view to having a new police-office built, with cells, &c., within the building, and under the entire control of the police. The cells referred to as being in Hall Yard were not at the Police-Office.They were the two Lock-up cells, Duck Hill, under Kirkgate. So if someone was arrested they were perhaps taken first to the Police Office, then along the Water Skellgate and to the Lock-Up on Duck Hill (Hall Yard). In March 1877, Richard Seabury, a 25 year old bolt maker, was suffocated to death by smoke in one of the Lock-Up cells. The report of the inquest says "P.C. Webb stated that on Friday night, about 8 p.m., he arrested the deceased in the Market Place, near the Studley Royal Hotel, for fighting. He was taken to the police-office and thence to the police cells. Deceased was searched at the police-office, but on entering the cells a coat was handed to him which was also searched and nothing found in but two books." P.C. Dalby stated that shortly after midnight he visited the cells and found the place in a blaze. The lid of a night commode in the cell was on fire as was also the mattress upon which deceased was laid. He pulled deceased out of the cell and found that he was insensible. Mr. Thomas Collier, surgeon, was sent for, but before his arrival life was extinct. Mr. Samuel Harrison, goal keeper, stated that about midnight his attention was attracted to the cells by the smell of fire. On going down stairs and into the cells, he met Dalby going into the cell and they found the place full of smoke to suffocation. The bedding and commode were burning and the deceased was laid out on the mattress. Part of a fusee match was found afterwards on the bed, both ends of which had been burned. The Lock-Up continued to be used after this but it was decided that any prisoner should be visited every three hours. The new Police Office was located in the Post Office on Kirkgate (had been the Council House until 1852). An extension was built behind the building on Duck Hill with four brick vaulted cells on the first floor. This was on the same level as the ground floor of the Kirkgate building and so there was access to the cells was made from the Police Office. There was also an exercise yard covered with an iron grille on the same level to the east. The barred windows to the corridor of this building which over looks Duck Hill can still be seen.'

Jonathan Price, local historian

Featured Images

  • Lock-up on Duck Hill, which is actually under the pavement of Kirkgate© Jonathan Price, with kind permission
  • One of the cells, now used for storage. Both cells have arched or vaulted ceilings which currently have cladding on them. The measurements appear to be those in the 1850 report.© Jonathan Price, with kind permission
  • The second cell. Both cells have arched or vaulted ceilings which currently have cladding on them. The measurements appear to be those in the 1850 report.© Jonathan Price, with kind permission
  • Hole for the grill to allow fresh air into the cells.© Jonathan Price, with kind permission
  • Narrow corridor from which the two cells are accessed. The door leading to the street - marked by an 'Exit' sign. Two stone steps lead up to the street.© Jonathan Price, with kind permission

Description: Lock-up on Duck Hill, which is actually under the pavement of Kirkgate

Photo by: © Jonathan Price, with kind permission

Description: One of the cells, now used for storage. Both cells have arched or vaulted ceilings which currently have cladding on them. The measurements appear to be those in the 1850 report.

Photo by: © Jonathan Price, with kind permission

Description: The second cell. Both cells have arched or vaulted ceilings which currently have cladding on them. The measurements appear to be those in the 1850 report.

Photo by: © Jonathan Price, with kind permission

Description: Hole for the grill to allow fresh air into the cells.

Photo by: © Jonathan Price, with kind permission

Description: Narrow corridor from which the two cells are accessed. The door leading to the street - marked by an 'Exit' sign. Two stone steps lead up to the street.

Photo by: © Jonathan Price, with kind permission

SOURCES

    Inspectors of Prisons of Great Britain II. Northern and Eastern District, Fifteenth Report (Parl. Papers, 1850, XXVIII.291), p.51
  • Inspectors of Prisons of Great Britain II. Northern and Eastern District, Sixteenth Report (Parl. Papers, 1851, XXVII.461), p.96

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