Reading (HM Prison)


Reading (HM Prison)

Infobox HM Prison
name = HMP Reading


size = 200px
caption =
opened = 1844
type = Young offenders Institution
figures = 297 (October 2006)
location = Reading, Berkshire,
governor = Pauline Bryant
prisonid = 625

HM Prison & YOI Reading is a British prison.

HM Prison Reading was built in 1844 as the Berkshire County gaol in the heart of Reading, Berkshire on the site of the former county prison, alongside the site of Reading Abbey and beside the River Kennet. Designed by George Gilbert Scott it was based on London's New Model Prison at Pentonville with a cruciform shape and is a good example of early Victorian prison architecture. It was designed to carry out what was the very latest penal technique of the time, known as the separate system. As a county gaol it also served as the site for executions, the first one in 1845 before a crowd of 10,000, the last one being carried out in 1913.

From 1916, it was used to hold Irish prisoners involved in the Easter Rising. It closed as gaol in 1920 and has also been used as internment site in both world wars, a borstal and for a variety of other purposes.

In 1973, Reading was redesignated as a local prison and around that time its old castle wall was removed. In 1992 it became a Remand Centre and Young Offenders Institution, holding prisoners between the ages of 18 and 21 years. It now has about 290 inmates. The Remand centre Library service is run by Reading Borough Libraries. There are two the education department in Reading. One is run by the Prison service and one is run by Milton Keynes College.

Reading prison has 5 active wings holding prisoners. A wing for basic and standard prisoners. B wing for working prisoners. C wing for induction and enhanced prisoners. E wing for vulnerable prisoners. And kennet unit, the only part of the prison operated as a open system.

Famous Inmates

* Roderick McLean, who was the sixth person to attempt to assassinate Queen Victoria.
* Bandmaster William Thomas of Maidenhead Citadel Band of the Salvation Army was sentenced to several months manual labour. He was arrested for obstructing the road by conducting a Church open-air service in 1892.
* It is most famous for imprisoning Irish poet Oscar Wilde from November 1895 to May 1897. He wrote De Profundis while in the gaol, and The Ballad of Reading Gaol is based on his experience of imprisonment there. He spent part of his time in the prison helping run the prison library.
* Charles Thomas Wooldridge, Trooper of Royal Horse Guards. Executed on 7 July 1896 for the murder of his wife. He was the subject of Wilde's The Ballad of Reading Gaol.
* The Irish revolutionaries William Thomas Cosgrave, later President of the Irish Republic, and Ernest Blythe were held there because of their involvement in the Easter Rising. Darrell Figgis wrote of his time interned there in A Chronicle of Jails (Dublin, 1917).
* Actor Stacy Keach served six months there after being convicted of cocaine smuggling in 1984.

References

* Peter Southerton: "Reading Gaol by Reading Town" (Berkshire Books, Gloucs., 1993).

External links

* [http://www.hmprisonservice.gov.uk/prisoninformation/locateaprison/prison.asp?id=625,15,2,15,625,0 HM Prison Reading website]
* [http://www.reading.co.uk/history/ballad.htm Ballad of Reading Gaol Etext]
* [http://homepages.gold.ac.uk/oscholars/vol_iii_07/essays.html Essay on Wilde and thie history of Reading Prison]


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