The Old Prison - Northleach
The Old Prison is a former house of correction built in the 1790's.
The building has been given a new lease of life with the opening of a stylish 21st Century coffee shop, and public access to the historic courtroom and rural life collection.
The venture got off the ground following a £200,000 investment in the building’s future by its owner, Cotswold District Council. The cash injection has not only enabled Blades to open in the former shop area, but has given the Cotswolds Conservation Board (AONB) larger offices in the heart of the building www.nationaltrail.co.uk
Visitors are also able to see, free of charge, the historic courtroom and parts of the rural life collection – including agricultural implements and waggons, from the Lloyd Baker collection - in an open storage area outside.
The Old Prison is situated at the former Cotswold Heritage Centre on the A429, close to the traffic lights at Northleach.
The Rural Life Collection at the Old Prison
At the heart of the collection is a group of 23 farm waggons and carts - one of the largest publicly-owned regional collections anywhere in the country. This collection is particularly important as it contains many excellent examples of Cotswold, Gloucestershire and South Midlands style farm waggons. Such preservation of rural life and social traditions from one region is of national importance.
Much of the collection was brought together by the late Miss Olive Lloyd Baker whose family owned estates south of Gloucester and in the hills of the western Cotswolds. She set out in the late 1960's to build up a collection of agricultural ‘bygones’ and kept them at the family home at Hardwick Court. As the world of industry changed Miss Lloyd Baker recognised the importance of preserving such items for future generations to enjoy and learn from. When Miss Lloyd Baker died in 1975 the collection was accepted by HM Treasury in lieu of estate duties, and transferred to Cotswold District Council.
The collections can be viewed each year from 1st April until the 1st November via Cotswold Conservation Board. The current opening times for the “Escape to the Cotswolds” centre are 4 April to 31 October, Wednesdays to Saturdays, 11am to 4pm. Admission is free. For more information visit http://www.escapetothecotswolds.org.uk/things-to-see/aonb-visitor-centre/ or call the Cotswolds Conservation Board on 01451 862000.
Visitors to The Old Prison can also visit the historic courtroom which was added in 1834 and continued in use until 1974.