Victorian London - Prisons - Coldbath Fields

The House of Correction, for the County of Middlesex, is situated in Coldbath Fields. It is a large insulated brick building, surrounded by a lofty wall; it was constructed upon the plan of the great philanthropist Howard; but, as an experiment, has entirely failed. It was erected about the year 1790, but has since been very considerably enlarged; its extension, by the annexation of successive erections at different periods, will at a glance convince every dispassionate inquirer that the idea of confining prisoners in separate cells in a gaol, the commitments to which annually amount to 3000, must be completely chimerical; many and various alterations have been made to the original building, which, in addition to a residence for the governor, an infirmary, and well arranged offices, contains, probably, the best prison chapel in the metropolis. The prisoners condemned to hard labour are put to work upon two treadmills, one having been found insufficient for the employ of the number committed to hard labour.

Mogg's New Picture of London and Visitor's Guide to it Sights, 1844

HOUSE OF CORRECTION, COLD BATH FIELDS. The daily average of prisoners confined is about 1100.

Peter Cunningham, Hand-Book of London, 1850

see also Thomas Archer in The Pauper, The Thief and The Convict - click here

[ ... back to main menu for this book]

see also Henry Mayhew in The Criminal Prisons of London [very detailed]

Coldbath Fields is the great prison of the county of Middlesex, and though covering a somewhat smaller space than the City Prison, will contain considerably more than three times as many prisoners. It is almost as good an example of the associated system as will be found, and may be seen by order from the Home Office. Its entrance is in Coldbath- square, opening out of the Bagnigge-wells. road, and is passed by the "Favorite" omnibuses, Victoria Station to Stoke Newington. It stands half-way between the King's- cross and Farringdon Stations on the Metropolitan, a few yards nearer the latter. NEAREST Cab Rank, Mount Pleasant.

Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879

see also J. Ewing Ritchie in Days and Nights in London - click here