Oxford Prison eventually closed its doors as a prison in 1996 and remained closed until 2006 when it opened up as a hotel and attraction. In his latest post, former Oxford Police Detective Paul Kyberd shares an aerial view of the prison he remembers…
Oxford Prison eventually closed its doors as a prison in 1996 and remained closed until 2006 when it opened up as a hotel and attraction. Here is a picture when it was a prison taken by Thames Valley Police’s helicopter:
You can clearly see A Wing, the main body of the prison behind the four chimneys. Although the entrance is now the entrance to the hotel it was never used back then, always closed. The entrance for staff, prisoners and visitors was to the right of the entrance, an archway which you can see in the picture just left of the two white coloured cars.
Follow the walls round and you can see how large the grounds were and included St Georges Tower to the right of the picture. The entrance to the prison was named Tower Crescent and one can clearly see four buildings to the right of the main entrance. These were houses where the Prison Staff lived. Behind these houses and towards the prison is a building used by the staff. Work is being done on D Wing which is covered in white sheeting. The grassed square behind A Wing is the exercise yard.
Many staff lived in the area in Hythe Bridge Street and Park End Street. The Governors House was used as a canteen and offices for senior prison staff.
Single Prison Officers lived in a dormitory which was actually the old condemned cell. They would have to move out should an execution was to take place but the last execution was in 1952. The castle mound to the right of the picture was just outside the prison but would be maintained by inmates.
Oxford Prison also had land to the east of Oxford which was farmland. Inmates would attend the farm daily providing the prison with vegetables.
What a piece of history showing a Victorian prison from the air!