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Punishment and Rehabilitation

Treadmill at Bedford Gaol - Profit Report,1816

Extract from the Quarter Session Records that shows the profits made from the treadmill at the Old House of Correction, Bedford Gaol. The treadmill was built in 1816 to grind corn, and the prisoners were paid at first. Later it became a punishment mill. For ten hours every day the convicts and untried prisoners climbed the height of Mount Everest, with some rest periods during which they still had to walk round in a circle unless they were eating. They were not allowed to talk to each other while they climbed.

The tread wheel made a profit for the gaol, as can be seen from the following record after its installation in 1816:

Account of work done by the mill exclusive (except) for our own consumption, to 16th October 1816.

Wheat ground for the House of Correction and other customers: 15/6d earned (77p)

As follows:

  • Paid the prisoners for grinding the 46½ bushels at
  • 2d per bushel7/9d (39p)
  • Paid extra to men for work before trial 2/- (10p)
  • Profits on grinding 5/9d (28p)

Total 15/6d

(Quarter Session Records)