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Incarcerated Isle – Isle of Wight Prisons

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Incarcerated Isle – Isle of Wight Prisons


We all feel a little like prisoners at the moment, unable to go out of our houses, except to exercise and shop. But did you know that the island has one of the most notorious prisons in the country, HMP Isle of Wight, which over its history has housed a number of famous prisoners?


The prison was originally three prisons, Parkhurst, Albany and Camp Hill prisons. Camp Hill was a category C low security prison, but the others were both high security prisons holding the most dangerous criminals.


Parkhurst began in 1778 as a military hospital and children’s asylum and by 1838, it was a prison for children, some only ten years old! Almost 1500 boys between the ages of 12 and 18 years were sent from here to various colonies in Australia and New Zealand between 1842 and 1852. It became a prison for young male prisoners in 1863 and was known for its hard regime, including the use of leg irons.


Parkhurst became known as one of the toughest jails in the British Isles. It later housed many notable criminals, including the Richardson brothers, the Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe, Terrance John Clark (Mr Asia Drug Syndicate) and Reggie Kray from the Kray Brothers. The Teacup Poisoner Graham Young died there of a heart attack in 1990.


Albany was designed and built as a Category C Training Prison, occupying the former site of Albany Barracks, and opened in 1967. Soon after opening, a decision was taken to upgrade Albany to a Category B prison and, in 1970, Albany became a category A prison. Notable ex inmates include Charlie Kray (oldest Kray brother), Robert Welch (great train robber) John Duddy (Shepherd’s Bush Murders), Ian Brady (Moors Murderer) and Ray Morris (Cannock Chase Murders).


In 1992, Albany was redesignated as a Category B Closed Training Prison and it is now exclusively used to house sex offenders and vulnerable prisoners under category B/C. Albany also operates as an Assessment Centre for the core Sex Offender Treatment Programme. Paul Gadd, aka Gary Glitter, is currently an inmate.


In October 2008, it was announced that the names Parkhurst, Albany and Camp Hill would be lost and that the three would become part of one large prison run by a single governor. HMP Isle of Wight incorporated all three prisons at first, but in 2013 Camp Hill prison was closed. HMP is now a category B prison, almost exclusively housing sexual offenders, serving long sentences for serious offences.


Camp Hill prison was built in 1912 using prisoner labour from Parkhurst Prison, and was formally opened by Winston Churchill. It was failing by 2007, when Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons visited. Since its closure in 2013, it has lain derelict and a film of it in its current state can be viewed here:


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