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Gatehouse and perimeter wall to former HMP Shrewsbury

A Grade II Listed Building in Shrewsbury, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.7124 / 52°42'44"N

Longitude: -2.748 / 2°44'52"W

OS Eastings: 349563

OS Northings: 313013

OS Grid: SJ495130

Mapcode National: GBR BJ.245F

Mapcode Global: WH8BT.R2MX

Entry Name: Gatehouse and perimeter wall to former HMP Shrewsbury

Listing Date: 30 May 1969

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1417795

Location: Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY1

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Shrewsbury

Built-Up Area: Shrewsbury

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Shrewsbury All Saints and St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield

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This list entry was amended on 17/03/2014.

Gatehouse and perimeter wall to former HMP Shrewsbury, built 1788 to 1793 by John Hiram Haycock, with Jonathan Scoltock as builder and Thomas Telford as surveyor, with late-C19, C20 and early-C21 alterations and additions.


Gatehouse and perimeter wall to former HMP Shrewsbury, built 1788 to 1793 by John Hiram Haycock, with Jonathan Scoltock as builder and Thomas Telford as surveyor, with late-C19, C20 and early-C21 alterations and additions.

MATERIALS: the gatehouse is of brick with a vermiculated and rusticated ashlar principal elevation and ashlar plinth. Its roof, which is concealed behind a parapet on the entrance front, is of Welsh slate with brick stacks. The perimeter wall is of Flemish bond red brick with vermiculated stone piers, half-round stone coping and stone offset bands. Its late-C19 or early-C20 heightening comprises five courses of English bond brick.


EXTERIOR: the GATEHOUSE stands at the centre of the south-west side of the perimeter wall and is aligned north-west to south-east. Of two storeys in three bays, its principal elevation is of ashlar with banded, vermiculated rustication and faces south-west. It comprises a central entrance bay with flanking drum towers. The centre bay contains a large, round-headed, vehicular entrance with wooden doors set beneath a cast-iron lintel. To the tympanum there is a cast-iron latticed window resembling a portcullis. Above this, rising from a deep, plain parapet set over a heavy, roll-moulded cornice, is a shaped gable with a broken, segmental pediment. Supporting this are two wide, panelled pilasters. At the centre, in a round-headed niche, is a marble bust of the pioneering prison reformer John Howard, by John Bacon RA. A rectangular recessed panel below the niche is inscribed ‘HOWARD’. To the ground floor of the drum towers there are horned sashes, set within former pedestrian doorways, over which are flat hoods carried on curved brackets. On the first floor are circular, cast-iron latticed windows with stone surrounds with corduroy work rustication.

Attached to the right-hand return is a late-C20 reception block, which itself replaced a late-C19 addition. The right- and left-hand returns are of red brick, but the cornice and parapet continue to the tops of the walls. Each first floor has three horned sashes with stone cills, probably inserted in the late C19.

The rear of the gatehouse is of Flemish bond brick with a central, coped gable, now partly concealed by an early-C20 extension to the vehicular entrance. To the left-hand side is a pedestrian entrance and to the right an inserted, late-C19 window opening. To the interior of the vehicular entrance, the late-C18 section contains two bays of brick, jack arches with cast-iron beams, probably inserted when the prison was rebuilt in the 1880s. The north-west wall contains two door openings with segmental arches and chamfered jambs whilst the south-east wall has two, later door openings with concrete lintels. A number of infilled openings exist in both walls.

Adjoining the north-west end of the gatehouse is a single-storey addition which was added in the 1880s, and further extended towards the prison yard in the late C20. Built against the perimeter wall, it is of English bond red brick with two, segmental-headed windows. All windows, except those of the first floor, have metal security bars.

INTERIOR: the interior has been remodelled from its late-C18 form, being a mix of late-C19 and C20 alteration and adaption. Surviving historic fixtures and fittings are mainly of late-C19 date and include a closed-string staircase in the south-east tower along with moulded door and window architraves to the first-floor rooms.


The PERIMETER WALL encloses an area which is roughly rectangular on plan, aligned north-east to south-west, with canted corners at the north-west and south-east sides.

The section of wall to Howard Street, which faces south-west, is interrupted by the gatehouse. North-west of the gatehouse, the wall stands to its original height, with two capped, vermiculated piers. It now contains three, late-C19 windows with stone cills, inserted when the gatehouse was extended. To the south-east of the gatehouse, the original late-C18 perimeter wall was demolished in the 1970s. The present wall here is set back from the original boundary line and of English bond brick with a stone coping. It is, possibly the wall of a late-C19 building that was attached to the gatehouse, but which has now been demolished.

The canted section to The Dana, which faces south, was truncated from three to two-and-a-half bays when the adjoining section in Howard Street was demolished. It is, along with the following eleven bays of the long, twelve-bay flanking wall, of late-C18 construction with a late-C19 or early-C20 heightening of c.0.5m. The twelfth bay at the north-east end is a 1970s extension. Between the centre and the right-hand end of the wall, one bay is surmounted by a raised semi-circular section with stone coping. Its exact function is unknown.

To Beacall's Lane both the three-bay canted section and eleven of the twelve bays of the long, flanking section are of late-C18 construction with a late-C19 or early-C20 heightening, as before. The final bay is a 1970s addition. Four bays at the centre have been raised in height, probably in the late-C20 or early-C21.

The wall at the rear of the site, which fronts a footpath behind Albert Street, is largely of 1970s date. At the centre is a single bay of the original, late-C18 wall, flanked by vermiculated piers. It has also been raised in height.

Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that the following are not of special architectural or historic interest:

The L-shaped, single-storey addition adjoining the south-east flank of the gatehouse, together with that portion of the perimeter walling, facing south-west onto Howard Street which lies between the gatehouse and the corner with The Dana.

The portion of walling which forms the twelfth bay along the flank with The Dana, at the north-east corner, and the walling which extends form the north-east corner of the site along the lane behind Albert Street, to the vermiculated stone pier at the south-eastern side of the central bay.

The portion of walling which forms the twelfth bay along the flank with Beacall's Lane, at the north-west corner, and the walling which extends form the north-west corner of the site along the lane behind Albert Street, to the vermiculated stone pier at the north-western side of the central bay.


In 1786 a local Act of Parliament was passed to rebuild the County Gaol and House of Correction for Shropshire. The prison commissioners invited William Blackburn (1750-1790), the leading prison architect of the time, to choose a site and prepare a plan for it. However, Blackburn’s role appears to have been advisory. Although he chose a site on Castle Hill and produced outlines of how the prison should be laid out, he declined to prepare a detailed plan. Consequently, the commissioners organised an architectural competition. John Hiram Haycock (1759-1830) was announced as the winner in October, and by January 1787 he was preparing working drawings. Despite this, it was not until September when Jonathan Scoltock was appointed as builder, with Thomas Telford (1757-1834) being chosen as the surveyor a further three months later. In early 1788, John Howard (1726-1788), the first English prison reformer, visited Shrewsbury to meet Telford and inspect the plans for the new prison. Although Haycock’s original design was based on Howard’s courtyard principles, he recommended a number of alterations and improvements. In March, a revised plan was produced by Telford and subsequently approved by the commissioners. The gaol and house of correction were completed in September 1793.

The prison was built with a courtyard plan, comprising four principal ranges enclosing a spacious quadrangular area divided into four airing courts. There were also several smaller courts placed round the building externally. The gatehouse was to the south-west of the site and the governor’s house stood opposite it in the centre of the south-west range. The whole site was enclosed by a perimeter wall of which a small projecting central section at the north-east side contained a detached, single-storied infirmary. As promoted by Howard, the cell block ranges consisted of open arcades to the ground floor, where prisoners would work during the day or shelter in wet weather, with sleeping cells above. In the centre of the courtyard was a two-storied octagonal building which contained a bake house on the ground floor and a chapel on the first floor. Two-storied blocks linked this building to the north-west and south-east ranges.

In 1833 the Quarter Sessions considered the division of the gaol and house of correction in respect of the Gaols Act of 1823. Separate cells were subsequently created between 1837 and 1844. Additional separate cells were added between 1865 and 1866.

In 1880, following the nationalisation of English prisons in 1878, the site was handed over to the newly appointed Prison Commissioners. In their judgement, the existing prison was dilapidated and unsuitable for modern occupation and an outbreak of typhoid in 1882-3 provided the impetus for rebuilding large parts of the gaol between 1883 and about 1888. All of the old prison, with the exception of the gatehouse, part of the south-west range and perimeter wall, were swept away. Based on Wormwood Scrubs’ ‘telegraph-pole’ plan, though much smaller in scale, the new prison comprised two parallel ranges, one being a large male wing and the other a smaller female wing, aligned north-east to south-west. Each range was connected to the rear of the original governor’s house, the upper floors of which were converted into a chapel. In addition to the cell blocks, the new facilities also included a new governor’s house, male and female infirmaries, an isolation ward, male and female reception blocks, workshops, a kitchen, a laundry and a van house/execution house. Single-storey additions were also added to the gatehouse on the prison side and the perimeter wall was also heightened at this time. The prison continued to accommodate male and female prisoners until it became a male only prison in 1922.

In the 1970s a substantial programme of development took place at the prison, including the building of two workshops and a gymnasium at the north-east end of the site. To facilitate this, the flanking sections of perimeter wall were extended and the rear wall was rebuilt to create a new, straight, northern section of wall, incorporating the projecting, central section of the original wall. Further late-C20 developments include the addition of education blocks and visitor facilities. A chapel, located in a former ground-floor store, opened in 1995. In the early C21, the 1970s gymnasium was demolished to create a new exercise yard, with a new gymnasium being built in the north-east corner of the site. The prison was closed in March 2013.

The gatehouse and the perimeter wall were originally listed on 30 May 1969 along with the rest of the prison buildings.

Reasons for Listing

The gatehouse and perimeter walls to the former HM Prison, Shrewsbury, are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural quality: the gatehouse is an accomplished classical composition which includes a bust of the prison reformer carved by John Bacon. Its strong rustication is continued in the stone buttresses which divide the perimeter walls into bays;

* Intact survival: despite some additions to the inner side of the gatehouse and walls and the demolition and rebuilding of three portions of the perimeter wall, the circuit of C18 walls and their gatehouse remains largely intact.

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