Historic Prison & Lock-Up Project

The Open University: Prison History Project

Dr Rosalind Crone of The Open University created the 19th Century Prisons database at www.prisonhistory.org in 2018.  This project has recently been updated and extended to include local lock-ups.  We are now calling for information of Irish prisons and lock-ups….

Your Local Lock-Up

Alongside the 19th Century Prisons database (www.prisonhistory.org/19th-century-prisons/), Dr Crone has developed Your Local Lock-Up; a public engagement project that aims to compile data on any place or structure used for temporary imprisonment between the 16th and early 20th centuries.  These structures could include purpose-built lock-ups, police stations, cells in town halls or courthouses, workhouses, stocks and even rooms in pubs where prisoners were guarded overnight.  The accused might have been held there until they appeared before a magistrate, or the structures could even have been used by the community to punish anyone misbehaving in the parish.

Information needed on Irish Lock-Ups

We therefore need your help!  We currently have over 700 English lock-ups in the database but none for Ireland.  We anticipate that there are countless others we know nothing about, and would be very grateful if your members could tell us about any in their area.  Or perhaps Ireland has a different history of local imprisonment and lock-ups were never used.  If that is the case, we would like to hear from anyone who can tell us how practice differed locally.  Similarly, has anyone written books or articles on the history of imprisonment in Ireland as the known literature currently concentrates on English prison history.

How to get involved

There are several ways you can get involved:-

  • Contribute information directly into the database through an online form at www.prisonhistory.org/locallock-up/submit-lock-up.
  • Supply us with old photographs of structures long demolished or pictures of those still in existence.
  • Add extra details and photographs of somewhere already listed in the database by using the ‘Anything to Add’ button on each lock-up entry.
  • Tell us a longer ‘story’ for our features page that gives the history of the lock-up (or its prisoners), how it has been restored or local events held there www.prisonhistory.org/category/stories/
  • Join our team  We are always happy for anyone interested in lock-ups and penal history more generally to join our project team to help with research and the development of the database at www.prisonhistory.org/local-lock-up/become-a-contributor/


Your Local Lock-Up is interested in collecting many different types of evidence on lock-ups.  We especially welcome historic and present-day descriptions of structures or their uses but we do not always need written evidence.  We are equally keen to hear anecdotes about incidents involving the lock-up, the prisoners held there and the location of any that are now lost.


Finally, why not connect with Prison History UK on social media?  Your members can follow us on Twitter (https://twitter.com/prisonhistoryuk), ‘like’ our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/Prison-History-UK-2390455521218014 ); and share material with us on Instagram (www.instagram.com/prisonhistoryuk). You can also subscribe directly to our mailing list at www.prisonhistory.org to receive the latest project news and updates.

Contact information

If you have any queries, or would like further information about Your Local Lock-Up, please email Dr Rosalind Crone at Rosalind.Crone@open.ac.uk or myself at earlypolicing@gmail.com.  We very much look forward to receiving your comments and contributions to this exciting new project.

Best wishes, Dr Elaine Saunders

Researcher, Your Local Lock-Up


For Dr Rosalind Crone, The Open University

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