The original prison was built in 1859 for convicts from Britain at the suggestion of John Montagu who was the colonial secretary to the Cape of Good Hope from 1843 to 1852. They were transported to The Cape to work on the construction of the breakwater which would allow the harbour which is now the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront to be built. The remains of a treadmill on which prisoners were punished can still be seen.
During the later part of the 19th century other prisoners were accommodated at Breakwater prison and it was the first site to racially segregate black and white convicts.
In 1902 white prisoners were moved into a new building, called the Industrial Breakwater Prison, which remains today. The design with four castellated turrets and an enclosed courtyard was styled after Millbank and Pentonville prisons in England. After ten years as a prison it became a juvenile offenders institution and from 1926 until 1989 a hostel for black dock workers.
- "Cape Town - V & A Waterfront, Buildings of Historical Significance". Cape Town Accommodation. Archived from the original on 8 October 2011. Retrieved 22 September 2010.
- "A brief history of Breakwater Lodge". Protea Hotels. Archived from the original on 11 September 2011. Retrieved 22 September 2010.
- "Protea Breakwater Lodge". University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business. Retrieved 22 September 2010.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Breakwater Prison.|