Tuesday, 28 August 2007

A visit to Dartmoor Prison Heritage Centre

The other week our local history group made a visit to the Dartmoor Prison Heritage Centre up in the middle of the moor at Princetown. This was before the weather had settled down for the August Bank Holiday and we were all joking about how the rain added to the atmosphere! More information about the museum can be found here and the £2 entry I thought very reasonable.

For those not in the know prior to its present use as a convict prison it had been originally used to house French prisoners of war from the Napoleonic times and then Americans from the pointless war we fought with them in about 1812. The prison fell into disuse for some time before acquiring its present status in 1850. We were privileged to have a conducted tour of the PoW cemeteries by David Frances who, before his recent retirement, was the curator of the museum. Now David really loves history and this was very evident in the passion he showed when talking to us. The two PoW cemeteries are an oasis of calm tucked away behind the prison walls and it was totally fascinating to learn about them.

On the subject of the prison it has just been announced that some work will be done in updating the presently disused 'C' wing to make it suitable to receive prisoners. With the current situation regarding lack of spaces and prisoners interned in police cells this sounds like a cost effective measure.

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