HM Prison Shrewsbury

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HMP Shrewsbury
Shrewsbury Prison1.JPG
Main entrance to HMP Shrewsbury
LocationShrewsbury, Shropshire
Security classAdult Male/Category B&C
Managed byHM Prison Services
GovernorGerry Hendry
WebsiteShrewsbury at
The Dana prison, viewed from Shrewsbury's railway station
Another view of the prison from the adjacent railway station

HM Prison Shrewsbury was a Category B/C men's prison in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England. It closed in March 2013.

The former prison site, on Howard Street, adjacent to Shrewsbury railway station, is near the site of the Dana Gaol, a medieval prison. The name The Dana is still often used for the prison, as well as being the name of the road to one side of the prison and the pedestrian route that runs from near the front of the prison into the town centre via a footbridge over the station. The now disused platform 8 at the station, masked from the opposite platform by a high wall, was used for transporting prisoners between 1868 and the First World War.[citation needed]

A bust of prison reformer John Howard is above the main entrance to the prison. The street leading up to the prison from the main road is also named after him.

Currently the Dana Prison, Shrewsbury is open as a tourist attraction. Jailhouse Tours runs guided tours, theme events and experiences, educational days, history days, seasonal events, horror tours and School tours. Jailhouse Tours will continue to manage the site until development work begins on the building in 2019.[1]


There has been a prison on the site since 1793, the original building being constructed by Thomas Telford to plans by Shrewsbury architect John Hiram Haycock;[2] the present prison building was constructed in 1877. The prison took female convicts until 1922.[3]

For 20 years, Samuel Webster Allen was the Roman Catholic chaplain at the prison before being made the Bishop of Shrewsbury in 1897.[4] Former Wales Rugby Union international player John Strand-Jones was the part-time Church of England chaplain from 1930 to 1934.[5]

Between 1902 and 1961 the following seven people were executed by hanging within the walls of HMP Shrewsbury for the crime of murder:-

  • Richard Wigley, aged 34 years, on Tuesday, 18 March 1902, for the murder of his girlfriend Mary Ellen Bowen.
  • William Griffiths, aged 57 years, on Tuesday, 24 July 1923, for the murder of his mother Catherine Hughes.
  • Frank Griffin, aged 40 years, on Thursday, 4 January 1951, for the murder of Jane Edge.
  • Harry Huxley, aged 43 years, on Tuesday, 8 July 1952, for the murder of his girlfriend Ada Royce.
  • Donald Neil Simon, aged 32 years, on Thursday, 23 October 1952, for the murders of his estranged wife Eunice Simon and her lover Victor Brades.[6]
  • Desmond Donald Hooper, aged 27 years, on Tuesday, 26 January 1954, for the murder of Betty Smith
  • George Riley aged 21 years on Thursday, 9 February 1961, for the murder of his neighbour Adeline Mary Smith.[7]

The names of their victims and their relationships with them appear also. In almost every case the murder victim was female. Executions took place at 8.00 am. All executed prisoners were buried in unmarked graves inside the prison, as was customary. The four executions which took place during the 1950s were all conducted by Albert Pierrepoint and his assistant. The last execution in 1961 was conducted by Harry Allen and his assistant. In February 2014 the Ministry of Justice stated that the remains of ten executed prisoners were exhumed from the prison in 1972, with nine cremated at a local crematorium and the ashes scattered there.[8] The remaining body was handed over to relatives.[9]

In September 2004, Member of Parliament George Stevenson,[10] called for an enquiry into the number of suicides which had occurred at Shrewsbury Prison. This came after 3 inmates had hanged themselves at the jail in 2 weeks.[11]

A report in 2005 named Shrewsbury prison as the most overcrowded in England and Wales. In August 2008 a further report stated that the prison had 178 places in use but held 326 inmates - an overcrowding rate of 183%.[12] A report in June 2012 by the Prison Reform Trust awarded Shrewsbury second place in England and Wales for overcrowding, holding 326 prisoners in space designed for 170 men, a figure exceeded only by Kennet in Liverpool at the time.[13] In 1934, the prison had contained the larger number of 204 cells.[3]

Bust of John Howard above the main entrance.

Before closure, Shrewsbury was a Category B/C prison accepting adult males from the local courts in its catchment area. Accommodation at the prison consisted of double occupancy cells in mostly Victorian buildings. The prison offered education and workshops to inmates. A Listener Scheme was also available to prisoners at risk of suicide or self-harm.

In January 2013, it was announced that the prison was scheduled for closure.[14] The last inmates were transferred from Shrewsbury to other prisons on 27 February 2013, ahead of its closure in March.[15]

The Grade II listed former prison building was sold by the Ministry of Justice to developers, the Trevor Osborne Property Group, in 2014, and is expected to be converted into homes and offices.[16] In April 2015, it was revealed proposals included accommodation for around 200 students of the recently created University Centre Shrewsbury.[17] In January 2016 formal planning proposals convert the former prison to flats and student accommodation were submitted[18] but in December 2016 Shropshire Council refused the outline plans, also including restaurants, shops and a gym, on grounds of effects on traffic.[19]

Cultural impact[edit]


The prison is mentioned in "On Moonlit Heath and Lonesome Bank" which is part of the poem, "A Shropshire Lad" by A.E. Housman. The proximity of the prison to Shrewsbury railway station and junction is highlighted in the verse:

They hang us now in Shrewsbury jail:
The whistles blow forlorn,
And trains all night groan on the rail
To men that die at morn.

Film location[edit]

Since its closure, in September 2015 it was reported the buildings would be used as a setting for the Sky 1 television drama, Lucky Man (producer, Carnival Films) being cast as the fictional "Whitecross Prison". Filming would take place there for a week.[20]

Shrewsbury Prison was used as the filming location of the prison for series 2 of the ITV drama series Prey.

In 2016, Shrewsbury Prison was featured on a season 2 episode of Paranormal Lockdown as a haunted location. It also appeared in three Most Haunted episodes at the end of August and in early September. This was followed by a 2-hour long Halloween special of Most Haunted As Live! released on 31 October on UKTV Play and shown on 3 November on Really.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Colvin, H. (2008). A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840 (3rd edition). Yale University Press. p. 482.
  3. ^ a b Kelly's Directory of Shropshire, 1934. Kelly's. p. 233.
  4. ^ Mate, C.H. (1907). Shropshire, Part II: Historical, Descriptive, Biographical. Mate. p. 26.
  5. ^ Crockford's Clerical Directory 1957-58. p. 631.
  6. ^ "This Week in Crime". Archived from the original on 2010-12-01. Retrieved 2013-04-12.
  7. ^ "Did George Riley deserve to hang?". BBC News. 1 February 2010.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Shrewsbury prison history". Jailhouse Tours. Retrieved 3 December 2017.
  10. ^ MP for Stoke South, not the Shrewsbury constituency MP who was then Paul Marsden.
  11. ^ "MP calls for jail suicide inquiry". 3 September 2004. Retrieved 2009-01-13.
  12. ^ "County prison 'most overcrowded'". Shropshire Star. 7 August 2008. Archived from the original on 2 December 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-13.
  13. ^ "The Dana holds almost double the number of prisoners it should - County jail second most overcrowded". Shropshire Star. 27 August 2012. p. 5.
  14. ^ "Seven prison closures in England announced". BBC News.
  15. ^ "BBC News - HMP Shrewsbury prisoners transferred ahead of closure". 2013-02-27. Retrieved 2013-04-12.
  16. ^ "BBC News - Dana prison in Shrewsbury to become homes and offices". Retrieved 2014-11-23.
  17. ^ "Dana Cells for Live-In Students". Shropshire Star. 13 April 2015. p. 1.Report by Dominic Robertson.
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Prison Project Is Thrown Out". Shropshire Star. 23 December 2016. p. 1.Report by Sam Morris.
  20. ^ "Former prison in TV spotlight as filming for drama gets under way". Shropshire Star. 15 September 2015. p. 15.Report by Naomi Penrose.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°42′43.70″N 2°44′51.29″W / 52.7121389°N 2.7475806°W / 52.7121389; -2.7475806