Chatham used to have a Prison,it was near the Dockyard on the site that later became HMS Pembroke Royal Naval Barracks.Today the Site is used by Canterbury Christ Church University.
The Prison was built in the early 1850's and was purposly built to house 1,200 serious long term Convicts.They were made to work long hours and disipline was harsh.They were treated inhumanely by the Warders.Before the Prison was built the prisoners were accomodated in former warships.
In 1861 there was a major riot at the Prison and there was much damage,as punishment many prisoners were chained and locked in their cells for a week,some others were whipped.The Prisoners resented the Warders and one Warder was even murdered a few years later.Some of the Prisoners were driven insane by the cruel treatment they received.There was numerous escape attempts.
In the 1860's the Convicts were used to build the Victorian extension to the Dockyard.They operated a special Brick Field that was at the North end of St Mary's Island as many Bricks were needed for the new extension.Also they helped drain the marshly land on the Island and then built it up by 8 feet.then they helped dig foundations and other Construction work for the new Dock Basins and Buildings.
After all the work was finished in 1885 some prisoners were transferred to other Prisons.As there was less work to do the Prison became run down and was finally closed in 1893.The Prison was demolished and the site was cleared.In 1897 the construction of the Royal Naval Barracks was started on the site.
Manacled convicts with armed gaurds in the Prison parade ground.
Map of the Dockyard area before the Victorian extension.The Prison is in the centre,below St Marys Creek.