How Tynemouth’s House of Correction was a prison for prostitutes and petty thieves

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For around 100 years, Tynemouth House of Correction was a prison for minor miscreants, such as prostitutes and petty thieves

In his latest feature for ChronicleLive, local historian CHARLIE STEEL recalls the former Tynemouth prison that held petty criminals

Law and order in Britain during the 1700s and 1800s was a frequently brutal affair.

Following an Act of Parliament in the 18th century, an order was made to build hundreds of ‘correction houses’ throughout England.

Tynemouth Correction House, situated on the south east corner of Northumberland Park, next to the Tynemouth Lodge Hotel, is one of only a few buildings that fulfilled that purpose still in existence in the country.

READ MORE: Tyneside in 1998 – in 10 photographs

The premises were designed by Mr William Newton, an eminent Newcastle architect, and built by Joseph Mathwin and Thomas Hutchinson for the sum of £623 6s 10d.

Building plans were first put forward in 1790, and work was completed by 1792.

Very little history exists in relation to the premises, but old records confirm it was a prison for minor miscreants, such as prostitutes and petty thieves, and had holding cells for more serious offenders who were awaiting confinement at Newcastle and Morpeth County Gaol.

The first governor and taskmaster was a former Newcastle Innkeeper, Robert Robson, who received a salary of £20 per year.

The building consisted of a governor’s house, 14 cells, two yards, a courthouse and a shed. The courthouse itself adjoined the House of Correction immediately next to Tynemouth Lodge Hotel, separated by a narrow alleyway, and was used for dispensing justice by circuit judges and visiting magistrates who held their petty sessions there every Tuesday.

The judges and magistrates often stayed at the adjacent hotel, which was built in 1799 for Mr William Hopper, and whose cellars were once used as kitchens to prepare meals for the prisoners.

Over the years, the building has had a number of modern extensions added. However, the old stone structure is still fully intact, most of which is now hidden from view behind the façade which was added in 1939 overlooking Tynemouth Road – appropriately called Correction House Bank at this location.

Notable events which occurred over the years include:

January 17, 1793: Joseph Smart was convicted of larceny, and sentenced to three months hard labour at Tynemouth House of Correction.

October 25, 1809: On the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of King George III, and by order of the magistrates, all prisoners were given a good dinner and a quart of ale.

July 26, 1885: A prisoner named William Daglish escaped.

April 2, 1886: A prisoner named Arthur Henderson escaped by scaling the wall of the exercise yard. He was recaptured soon afterwards.

The front gable of the old courthouse bears an old circular stone crest depicting the Castle Keep, Newcastle.

By 1904, the building was no longer in use as a prison and it was suggested that the town council should buy the property for the improvement of the adjoining park, a shelter or tea rooms. However, the council declined the opportunity to do so, and it was eventually taken over and converted to a laundry, in which capacity it remained for most of the 20th century.

In the late 1960s it became the premises of an engraving and a hygiene company, when further additions and extensions were carried out.

It has since been used for storage, offices and a showroom for a number of small businesses. In 1999 the premises attained the status of a Grade II-listed building.

Born in Newcastle, local historian and author, Charlie Steel has spent much of his life living in Monkseaton. With a lifelong interest in the North Tyneside area, he has several published books to his credit. They include Monkseaton Village (Part 1 & 2), Whitley Bay Remembered (Part 1 & 2), North Shields Public Houses, Inns & Taverns’ (Part 1 & 2), and Tynemouth Remembered – all published by Summerhill Books.

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