Armley prison-The hangman's tunnel

Bunkers, shelters and other buildings
Phill_dvsn
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Postby Phill_dvsn » Tue 23 Aug, 2011 3:13 pm

I thought I would start a new thread on H.M.P Leeds, Armley nick, or the big house on the hill as it is better known to local people. The prison has been mentioned a few times on Secret Leeds, but it doesn't have it's own thread. I'll add a bit of history, some photos, and a little bit of local trivia.Oh yes and there is a hangman's tunnel too, I bet this mcarbre title gets a few hits, people love a grisly story as we found out with the Kirkgate skulls thread.One of my old photos of Armley prison I found on my hard drive the other day. It's a very imposing structure that dominates the skyline. Armley Gaol was built as Leeds Borough Gaol and completed in July 1847 at a cost of £43,000. The prison was designed by architects Perkin and Backhouse. The jail was deliberately designed to look grim and forbidding to act as a visual deterrent to any potential offenders.You don't get much more of a grim and forbidding deterrent as this blocked off Hangman's tunnel. The tunnel is in the prison boundary wall, and was used to bring out condemned prisoners for a public execution. The first hangings at Armley were the convicted murderers Joseph Myers and James Sargisson. The condemned men being walked down the dark tunnel to view the goal field, and place of execution for the last time. It was reported in the Leeds Mercury as 'a sad and horrible picture of humanity.' This referring to the crowds of between 80,000 and 100,000 spectators who had turned out to witness the hangings.From looking at archive photos, and studying the aerial image I've managed to pin point where the blocked off hangman's tunnel is in the prison wall. Myers had tried to cheat the hangman by cutting his throat while in prison but was saved by the surgeon. The hangings took place on a Saturday morning on the 10th September 1864. At five minutes to nine, the prison bell began to toll and the two men were led out onto the gallows, white hoods pulled over their faces.The trapdoor was operated with a thud, their bodies hanging below almost hidden from the crowd. Myers seemed to die almost immediately, but Sargisson struggled for some minutes. As feared the wound in Myers' throat had re-opened and there was an amount of blood on his shirt. After hanging the customary hour, they were removed from the gallows and buried within the prison.The final execution at the prison was that of Hungarian born Zsiga Pankotia on the 29 June 1961 for the murder of Eli Myers in a house burglary in the city's affluent Roundhay district.A 1949 aerial view of Armley Jail and it's surroundings, a scene much changed today. The prison originally had four wings radiating from a central point in the typical Victorian prison design known as a 'radial' This layout was considered the easiest to supervise with all wings easily visible from one vantage point, the Inmates have clear site of their nemesis at all times.A more recent aerial image showing how the prison has extended over the years. The once large circular walkway in the exercise yard now cut in half by building extensions. A little piece of local trivia about the Wakefield prison exercise yard, It is said the children's nursery rhyme 'Here we go around the Mulberry Bush' originates from Wakefield prison, This well-known children's rhyme may have begun life as a song or chant by female inmates of Wakefield prison as they exercised around a mulberry bush within the prison grounds.The mulberry bush (or more accurately, tree) still thrives at the prison today.The Mulberry Tree 5.0% ABV brewed by Clarks in Wakefield is an ale based on the local prison and nursery rhyme theme. I managed to walk rather nonchalantly right up to the prison gatehouse to get this shot a few years back. The impressive exterior is very castle like in it's appearance, the turrets, towers, and ramparts creating the illusion to good effect.Armley prison is a Grade: II* listed building, but it's one I'm in no hurry to see inside of at present                 
My flickr pictures are herehttp://www.flickr.com/photos/phill_dvsn/Because lunacy was the influence for an album. It goes without saying that an album about lunacy will breed a lunatics obsessions with an album - The Dark side of the moon!
Firecracker
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Postby Firecracker » Tue 23 Aug, 2011 3:26 pm

When I was little I used to tell my mummy that when I grew up to be a princess I would live in that big castle lol.But I do know someone who spent some time inside and he was in a few different prisons..... he said the worst by far was Armley. Horrid place apparently.
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liits
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Postby liits » Tue 23 Aug, 2011 3:28 pm

One of my Uncles spent most of his working life as a PO at Armley. As a kid, I always wanted to try on his PO’s hat and wanted one of my own so badly. Obviously, he wouldn’t part with it claiming that it was the only one that he had.Not until he’d died, did we discover that he had had three new issues of uniform per year and his wardrobe was stuffed with no end of uniform shirts, tunics, trousers and above all, hats!For a chap who was always good for half a quid and a pile of comics [which he still bought up to his death] he was a miser when it came to hats!
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Leodian
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Postby Leodian » Tue 23 Aug, 2011 3:38 pm

Excellent work Phill. You say 'Armley prison is a Grade: II* listed building, but it's one I'm in no hurry to see inside of at present '. The 'at present' sounds like you expect to see the inside at some stage! Mind you it would be a good place to have a guided tour, as long as it was guaranteed that sightseers would be let out!
A rainbow is a ribbon that Nature puts on when she washes her hair.

Phill_dvsn
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Postby Phill_dvsn » Tue 23 Aug, 2011 3:40 pm

Leodian wrote: Excellent work Phill. You say 'Armley prison is a Grade: II* listed building, but it's one I'm in no hurry to see inside of at present '. The 'at present' sounds like you expect to see the inside at some stage! Mind you it would be a good place to have a guided tour, as long as it was guaranteed that sightseers would be let out! Wherever there is a tunnel, well you never know lol
My flickr pictures are herehttp://www.flickr.com/photos/phill_dvsn/Because lunacy was the influence for an album. It goes without saying that an album about lunacy will breed a lunatics obsessions with an album - The Dark side of the moon!
geoffb
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Postby geoffb » Tue 23 Aug, 2011 3:44 pm

Well done there Phil.One of its most infamous inmates was Charles Peace, thief, murderer and cop killer who was executed and buried there in1879. The executioner was one William Marwood who invented the long drop.There must be many more names we can add to the list, not all executed and many waiting trial at Leeds Crown Court
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liits
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Postby liits » Tue 23 Aug, 2011 3:52 pm

Chrism
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Postby Chrism » Tue 23 Aug, 2011 3:55 pm

IIRC wasn't the tunnel only used once for the one and only public execution?
Sit thissen dahn an' tell us abaht it.

Phill_dvsn
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Postby Phill_dvsn » Tue 23 Aug, 2011 3:57 pm

Chrism wrote: IIRC wasn't the tunnel only used once for the one and only public execution? I think it's possible your right Chris, it all depends when public executions were done away with. I guess a bit more research will answer the question better.
My flickr pictures are herehttp://www.flickr.com/photos/phill_dvsn/Because lunacy was the influence for an album. It goes without saying that an album about lunacy will breed a lunatics obsessions with an album - The Dark side of the moon!
Chrism
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Postby Chrism » Tue 23 Aug, 2011 4:04 pm

liits link says YES!
Sit thissen dahn an' tell us abaht it.





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