Former House of Correction - Northleach
Northleach was one of four houses of correction built in Gloucestershire in the 1790's, to the design of the then High Sheriff, Sir George Onesiphorus Paul. Paul was the inspiration and driving force behind the reorganisation of Gloucestershire's prison systems, the first such scheme of its kind in the country.
18th century prisons were overcrowded, unhealthy and insecure. Men and women were herded together and petty offenders rubbed shoulders with hardened criminals. Paul's first visit to the Gloucester gaol horrified him so much that he gave up his life of luxury to devote himself to penal reform.
After a long campaign he persuaded the county officials to adopt his plan to improve security , segregate men and women and those imprisoned for different offences, and provide medical care. This meant rebuilding the county gaol, scrapping the small town bridewells and building instead 4 special prisons for petty offenders known as houses of correction.
Northleach held 37 prisoners. It was opened in 1792 and became the most influential , for its unique design of exercise yards radiating out from the keeper's house to cell blocks at the ends ensured maximum security. The design was copied in an extended form at Pentonville Model Prison, London in 1844.
In 1857 the prison's status changed to a house of remand and the police took over the site. The police maintained a presence until 1973 when a new police station was opened in Northleach.
The history of justice on the site finally ceased when the Petty Sessional Court , which had been on the ground floor of the keeper's house from 1859, was moved to Stow-on-the-Wold in 1974.
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