Early Lock Ups
'And whereas the avenue leading from the High Street to the Homend is extremely dangerous to passengers by reason of its narrowness & is having been represented at this meeting that the Lords of the Manor are willing to remove the house belonging to them called the Tollshop and which is one of the projections that tends to render the road unsafe, provided a proper spot be found by the parish as a temporary prison for disorderly persons instead of the present Booth Hall which is a damp hole and unfit for the confinement of persons therein and it also appears that the small walled court at the end of the factory building may be converted at trifling expense into a prison for occasional confinement.'
This place of confinement consists of a single room, of very small dimensions, not much larger than the ordinary cell of a prison. The door opens immediately on a back street, and there is a small window towards the street. The room is dark, ill ventilated, extremely insecure, out of repair, damp and dirty. I saw, at my visit in November 1840, no other bedding than straw, and this appeared to have been some time there. In one corner was a broken necessary-stool. On one wall was a patch indicating a recent repair. This repair had been made at the expense of an individual living in an adjoining house: a prisoner had broken through the wall, and as no party at present will maintain the lock-up house, the individual in question had mended the wall himself.
The inhabitants of Ledbury support a policeman by subscription.
The Lock Up House consists of a single room of very small dimensions not much larger than the ordinary cell of a prison. The door opens immediately on a back street and there is a small window towards the street. The room is dark, ill ventilated, extremely insecure, out of repair, damp and dirty there is no other bedding than straw, and no water closet. A prisoner is either placed there at the risk of his health or with the certainty of incurring physical filth if not moral pollution. As there is only one cell, individuals of both sexes are sometimes left together during the night. Not long ago two women and a man were locked up together during the night. On a former occasion five prisoners were packed together during the night in a party consisting of two men and three women...... ...In consequence of the provision lately made by the Legislature for Lock-up Houses a committee of Magistrates was a short time since appointed for the purpose of ascertaining a proper site for the Lock up Houses and the residence of the Superintendent and after considerable difficulty in finding any suitable site they selected some premises in The New Street Ledbury the property of John Biddulph Esquire and which he is willing to let for a term of sixty years at the yearly rent as regards the dwelling house of £ 30 per annum and of a further rent of 7 per cent of the outlay necessary for erecting the cells at the back of the residence......
This lock-up is situated in the town of Ledbury, and like all the lock-up houses in the county of Hereford, is part of the police station. It consists of two cells, measuring 9 feet by 6 feet, with a height of 10 feet. The ventilation is very insufficient, and the mode of warming is not under sufficient control; for as there is no extraction from the cells, the heat occasioned by an iron pipe passing through them becomes very oppressive if continued for any length of time. The stove is placed in the passage, in the interspace between the two cells. There is an iron bedstead in each cell, and iron rings in the wall for suspending three hammocks, in contemplation of the occasional confinement of a large number of prisoners. There is no water-closet in the cells, moveable pans being used instead, a nuisance which requires no comment, to say nothing of the indecency, in the case of several prisoners being confined in the cell. There is no airing-yard, so that prisoners who may be detained for several days on remand can have no exercise out of their cells. There is a room, in the same building in which the magistrates hold their petty sessions once a fortnight. The cells were built about the year 1843. Since that time the largest number of prisoners at any one time has been six and these were detained on remands for a week. When there are females in custody at the same time with males, the former, to prevent conversation with the other sex, must be accommodated in a neighbouring public-house under care of a female.From a report in The Hereford Times 20 Oct 1849.
Ledbury Lock-up House.- Some repairs are necessary to be done at the Ledbury police station and Magistrates room. The walls in the latter apartment are so damp that they will not admit of painting or papering. I would recommend that the walls for three feet high be cased with half-inch boards, painted, the remainder papered, and the ceilings coloured. The wood-work in the windows of the constable's apartments is so much decayed that they cannot be repaired. I would recommend to have new sash windows in lie of the old led (sic) lights; the whole of the doors, windows, and all woodwork painted; ceilings and walls of cells and passages whitewashed; also the outside walls repaired and coloured, and two rooms in the constable's house painted and papered.From a report in The Hereford Journal 04 July 1855.
The Ledbury Lock-up: The Chairman said, perhaps it would be in the recollection of the Court that Mr Freeman, of Lugwardine, the Rev. W.P. Hopton and himself, (another Freeman, Mr John) were appointed a committee to inspect the lock-up at Ledbury, a subject which they very often had the pleasure of hearing brought forward in that Court.
The Ledbury Magistrates were kind enough to meet them there, and he must confess that the place was in a most disgraceful state, and in fact the whole premises were unworthy of the name of a lock-up. After due consideration they came to the following resolution:
Report of Committee on the Ledbury Police Station.
The Committee appointed by the Court at the last Easter Sessions to report upon the state of the Ledbury Police Station, inspected those premises on Friday, 20th April. They beg to state that they consider the Magistrate's room extremely inconvenient and ill arranged for the purposes for which it was intended; that the soil on the outside of the said room is three feet above the floor, and beneath, appears to be several inches of wet filth, and thus extreme dampness and occasionally offensive effluvium pervade the building. It appeared to the Committee that the only mode by which these defects can be remedied is by the purchase of a portion of the adjoining land, and they consequently communicated with Mr Woodward (the authorised agent of the proprietor), as to the terms on which it could be effected. The price named by the agent was about 7s 6d per square yard and this price, under the circumstances of the accommodation, did not appear to the Committee to be very exorbitant.......would very materially improve, both in shape and frontage, the value of the County property.
In Ledbury a new police station is in the course of erection, which will have three cells and accommodation for three officers and constables.
The residence of the Superintendent of Police, Mr George Tanner, the Petty Sessions Court room with prisoners' cells and yard adjoining was sold by auction at the Feather's Hotel to Joseph Mutlow Esq for £300.
I am glad to state that this Station internally is in a clean and satisfactory condition.
Several other matters at this Station require attention, for which I have also procured an estimate, and beg to submit for your approval. Such estimate includes cost of converting the cottage (which has become obsolete as a dwelling) adjoining the Station into an office and workroom for the Inspector of Weights and Measures, who accompanied me over the cottage and expressed himself satisfied as to its suitability for his purpose when the proposed work of conversion has been carried out.
My attention has been directed by the Chief Constable and also by my predecessor to the state of the Sergeant's Cottage.
I have made a thorough inspection of the building and find that both the exterior and interior is in bad condition.
EXTERNALLY The walls and chimneys, which are built of bricks of poor quality, need repairing and correcting throughout. Front and Back steps need replacing. New doors are required to Front Entrance and cellar, also 4 new windows, and the remainder repaired. Roofs and Porch also require repair.
INTERNALLY Skirtings should be provided to all rooms and staircase, flooring needs considerable repair and plaster of walls and ceilings and paper and paint require renewal throughout. One new stove is required and new iron chimney to back kitchen. The whole of the above work and many other details too numerous to mention here, need executing to put the house in a satisfactory state.
I submit an estimate of the cost, but desire to point out that if this work is carried out the Committee will possess but an old and inconvenient cottage, and I think it is worth considering whether it would not be more economical to pull down and rebuild.
The Magistrates have had under consideration the question of the heating of this Court by placing a Tortoise Stove at the end used by the public, and I also, at the request of their chairman, obtained an estimate for a system of High Pressure Heating. The cost of the former is about £ 7, the latter £ 36. I understand from the Chairman the Magistrates are in favour of the smaller expenditure.
The Magistrates also complain that the ventilation of the Court is unsatisfactory. There are perforations in the ceiling in connection with a wooden trunk in the roof, but there is nothing to create an up draught. I suggest the placing of Air Inlets and a Boyle's Extracting Ventilator in roof.
Repairs. Cills are required to the three windows at the back of the Police Court and Superintendent's house, and a portion of the wall there, of which the bricks and pointing are very defective, I recommend should be rendered with cement. Repairs are also required to a chimney stack,and to the plastering of a dormer window. The range in the Superintendent's kitchen is out of repair and unsatisfactory.
Considerable leakage during wet weather have for some time taken place through the roof and ceiling of the Court. On examining the roof I find the lead valley gutter has sunk to the extent of four inches below the outlet. It will be necessary to reconstruct the gutter and I therefore submit an estimate for carrying out the work.
The renovations at the Sergeant's Cottage have been completed, and I have certified for a payment of £ 60 on account to the Contractor.