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Inspection Reports Bedford Gaol 1839 and 1847-8

Prison Bed

Extracts from a inspectors report that show the size and conditions of the cells in Bedford County Gaol in 1839 and 1847-8.

Fourth Report of prison inspectors 1839 on prison accommodation at Bedford Gaol:

These cells were constructed merely as night cells and are, with the exception of two, of the following dimensions: six feet two inches long, three feet nine inches broad and in height seven feet ten inches in the lower gallery and ten feet four inches in the upper gallery. There is only one small aperture in the door for the admission of air and light, and a few small holes near the ceiling for the escape of foul air, but which are quite insufficient to maintain a proper degree of ventilation. The cells are far from being light. The prisoners, during this close confinement, have no access to a privy. When the cells were formerly occupied by day, the doors were kept open for the admittance of light and air; but as facilities were thus afforded for communication the doors were ordered to be closed.

Thirteenth Report of the prison inspectors 1847-1848:

There is a small opening in the door for the admission of air and light, but hoppered to prevent the prisoners seeing into the yard when the door is closed, and the ventilation is effected by means of a pipe, two-and-a-half inches in diameter, which is carried through the roof into the open air. There are no means of warming the cells and the ventilation is bad. Indeed one can scarcely imagine any place intended for a lengthened confinement of prisoners in the present day more painfully cold in winter or more distressingly hot in summer than these cells on the ground floor and roofed with copper. The prisoners having nothing to wash themselves in but their soil pots, which each brings from his cell and cleans out with water and rotstone before he uses it as a basin.