Dunedin Prison — Dunedin, New Zealand
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Dunbar Loop
S 45° 52.548 E 170° 30.442
59G E 461769 N 4919633
Quick Description: Built in 1896 and retired in 2007, the Dunedin Prison has seen its share of prisoners, hangings, and other activities. Today its fate remains uncertain as different parties discuss what its future purpose will be.
Location: South Island, New Zealand
Date Posted: 11/25/2009 2:11:47 AM
Waymark Code: WM7R2Q
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 11

Long Description:
From the Department of Corrections website:

Dunedin Prison mothballed

Historic Dunedin Prison has seen a lot – including hangings, floggings and, in the language of the 1800s, “bold and idle” women (who had probably been soliciting) – but the bricks and mortar are due for rest, following the decommissioning of the Prison late in August.

The first Dunedin Gaol, built in 1848, had a staff of one, and was relaxed about security, often letting prisoners out to wander the streets, deliver messages to local businesses and visit family and friends in the city. Most of those housed in the gaol at the time were colourful characters, arrested for being drunk, rather than terrible wrong-doings.

In 1855 the original small building burnt down when the gaoler, Mr Henry Monson, was carrying out one of his duties of purifying the gaol’s cesspool by throwing hot embers into it. A strong gust of wind came up, blew the embers against the outhouses and the gaol began to burn. A bucket brigade of 100 local people, including the one and only prisoner, quickly formed, but the gaol couldn’t be saved.

Several years later, in the midst of the gold-rush, the Government of the day decided Dunedin needed a decent prison. The Government Architect, JJ Campbell, drew up the plans for the prison as it stands today, basing his design on the old Scotland Yard Building in London. The new prison opened in 1896, making it one of our oldest, and one of our smallest as it occupies an area of just 266 square metres.

From 1959 to 1974, Dunedin was used solely as a women’s prison. This changed in 1975 with the opening of the Christchurch Women’s Prison and from that point on, Dunedin became a men’s prison and remained so until this year.

Regional Manager South Island Prisons Paul Monk says the prison was well-managed by the many Corrections staff who have worked within its walls. “The prison had a very low level of incidents which is a sure sign of a well-run facility with good Corrections officers,” he says.

A new chapter began for Corrections in the region, with the opening earlier this year of the new Otago Corrections Facility in Milton. The Otago Corrections Facility has 335 beds, compared to Dunedin’s 65, and houses low to high-medium male prisoners.

The future of Dunedin Prison has not yet been decided – and it may be re-opened to help deal with rising prisoner numbers – but whatever happens, it is an historic-listed building and will certainly remain an important part of Dunedin’s heritage.

Acknowledgement: Much of the material in this article was sourced from Bill Martin’s book Dunedin Gaol – A Community Prison Since 1851.

Crown copyright ©2007

2 Castle Street
Dunedin, Otago New Zealand

Open to the public: No

Not open to public


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