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Overview - Clothes

Prison uniform was introduced in most gaols at the end of the 18th century or during the early 19th century. It had a dual purpose, it clearly identified inmates and made it more difficult to escape undetected and it allowed a better standard of hygiene in the gaol. Some prisoners that arrived at the gaol were vagrants or very poor and had filthy clothes.

The standard prisons uniform at Bedford, for example, consisted of a prison dress coat, waistcoat, trousers, shirts, shoes and stockings. Remand prisoners were allowed to wear their own clothes, as long as these were of a decent standard, other clothes were fumigated or burnt.