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RECEPTION PROCESS The baths (located in part of what is now the Mess hall) were filthy. The prisoners would enter together to be separated by corrugated iron partitions covered with slime. The water ws not clear, but a kind of grey. Skin conditions and disease flowed and they all bathed in the same water, then dried on the same large towel.
In Victorian prisons in the 1800s, the most common form of punishment was the lash. A minor infringement incurred 25 lashes and 50 lashes for more serious crimes. Prisoners were tied to a three beamemed triangle known as the “3 sisters” and dealt the blows. Lashings would strip the flesh from a man’s back, and ,many became seriously ill, or died as a result.
Gruel and bread was part of the staple diet of the prisoners - often they made illicit alcoholic â€œpumpkin Patch Hootchâ€? under the noses of the wardens.
The old Beechworth Prison was designed and constructed by Victoriaâ€™s Public Works Department between 1857 and 1864. The major drawings of 1858, 1860 and 1864 were executed by Gustav Joachimi under the direction of William Wardell, and the 1861 drawings were jointly executed by Joachimi and H.A. Williams.
Cell One is the suicide cell... ...and just on the other side of the wall..
,,,the Wardenâ€™s BBQ area.
The view beneath the gallows.
The prison was built in stages between 1858 and 1864 using granite quarried on site. H. Dalrymple and George Simmie were the contractors. The Beechworth Gaol is one of nine Victorian prisons designed on the radiating â€˜panopticonâ€™ principle which had proved an efficient, cost-effective design for easy surveillance of prisoners by allowing guards to watch over a large area from a central observation point.
The Sydney Road site ceased operation as a functioning prison in 2004. The prison now operates at a new site in Malakoff Road. The Sydney Road structure was built in 1859 and completed in 1864 at a cost of 47,000 pounds.
The Gaol was not a nice place to spend any time. The outer wall is solid granite. The cells are small and isolated from each other. Donâ€™t event think of any modern plumbing, a bucket in the corner of the cell for a toilet, a tiny slit for light and air and a hatch in the door for communications when the guards wanted to talk. Hot in summer and really cold in winter.