Henry Barrowclough is a prisonwarder. Unlike Mr Mackay, whose harsh and confrontational methods he disapproves of (though he dare not make this known to Mr Mackay), Barrowclough is a timid, sympathetic man who firmly believes that the role of prison is to rehabilitate rather than punish.
Mr Barrowclough does not seem to be cut out for the life of a prison warden, and he says in the movie version whilst in conversation with a new officer that Slade prison is a miserable place and that the only reason he stays is that its either this or being at home with the wife. Fletcher and the other prisoners constantly abuse his leniency to acquire more pleasant jobs, cells or special privileges. They also know how to forge his signature. However, despite this, the prisoners do hold a great deal of fondness for Barrowclough. At one point, in an attempt to raise his prestige due to the vicious nature of Mr. Wainwright, the (temporary) replacement of Mackay, they stage a riot, refusing to stop for even the harshest of threats, including Wainwright himself. But when, on Fletch's suggestion, Barrowclough is called into the hall, they fall silent as he nervously enters, and do not hesitate in obeying his rather timid requests, such as 'now, why don't you all put those things down...' and 'in the meantime, why don't we all file back to our cells in a nice, orderly fashion...?'
However nervous his job makes Mr Barrowclough, it is nothing compared to the fear he has of his often mentioned but never seen wife, Mrs Alice Barrowclough. It is partly because of Fletcher's advice on dealing with his wife that Barrowclough is especially lenient when dealing with his requests and misdemeanours. Fletcher once described him as looking like 'Arthur Askey on stilts'.