Gaol, Maryport Street, Usk, Monmouthshire. Built to the design of T. H. Wyatt (1807-1880) in 1841-42, following the panoptican model of the very recently built Pentonville prison in London, this Grade II* listed building has a high buttressed sandstone wall, with chunky polygonal towers either side of the recessed entrance, which has a boarded-up door within its arch. Although the sandstone is very attractive close up, and is lightened by paler ashlar dressings, the structure as a whole looks very forbidding. The tiny slit windows in the wall are reminiscent of those in castle walls for defence purposes.
Left to right: (a) Seen from further down Marport Road (outside the Sessions House. (b) Close-up of the sandstone wall. (c) Partial view of entrance, with cast-iron portcullis over the top.
A valuable note on the British Listed Buildings site reads:
A printed detailed account of a visit to the prison in 1904 is held by the museum.... It refers to "stone-breaking" being the "normal industry" of the prison, and describes all the accommodation and facilities including: males' exercise ring, the temporary scaffold, isolation hospital, infirmary, medical officer's room, iron baths and a "good sheltered disinfector," engine house, kitchen, laundry, offices, heating pipes, with full account of the cell arrangements.
Despite having been enlarged in about 1868 by the County Surveyor (see Newman 593), and despite some alterations and the inevitable re-purposing of space, the gaol looks much the same now as it did in the Victorian period (see "Usk Prison").
First photograph by "Sionk" from Wikipedia, on the Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 license, and modified here for perspective and colour. Remaining photographs and text by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.
Newman, John. Gwent/Monmouthsire. Buildings of Wales series. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2000.
Robinson, John Martin. The Wyatts: An Architectural Dynasty. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979.
"Usk Prison." British Listed Buildings. Web. 18 July 2019.
Last modified 5 February 2008