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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 ACC/3444
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1804-1991
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 19.78 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Surrey House of Correction x HM Prison, Wandsworth


Administrative/Biographical history:

Wandsworth Prison was built in 1849 as a Surrey House of Correction and was intended for those serving short sentences. It was designed by D R Hill of Birmingham to hold 1000 prisoners, and the first male prisoners were admitted in 1851 and the first female prisoners in 1852. In 1877, when prisons were nationalised, it became a short-term prison and in 1878, it took over from Horsemonger Lane as the hanging prison for South London. It came to be used for recidivists and, after the First World War, part was taken over as the Boys' Prison for London, under a separate governor and regime from the main block. Boys were assessed here and, if appropriate, allocated to Borstals. In 1929, this function was transferred to Wormwood Scrubs. More recently, the prison has been used to hold convicted persons awaiting sentence and as the centre for allocating long-term prisoners to other prisons outside the London area.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of HM Prison, Wandsworth. The records relate to prison administration, the prisoners, and, to a much a lesser extent, the prison staff. The earliest records are a minute and letter book, 1847-1850, and a letter book, 1848-1852, of the Committee for building a new prison in Surrey (ACC/3444/AD/01/001-002).

With regard to records relating to prisoners, the main series is the nominal registers (ACC/3444/PR/01), giving details of the name, age, trade, education, and religion of the prisoner, the date of committal, details of the offence and sentence and the date of discharge. These are in chronological order and run from 1879 to 1956, with several volumes produced each year. Unfortunately, there are only a few indexes to these registers. Those that survive run from 1940 to 1956 only (ACC/3444/PR/02).

The other important series giving details about individual prisoners are the registers of executions, 1892-1961 (ACC/3444/PR/03), and files on condemned prisoners, 1933-1954 (ACC/3444/PR/04).

Also of interest is a series of glass plates of prison officers and prisoners from 1920 to the 1930s.

PLEASE NOTE: In accordance with Home Office regulations, the entire collection is subject to a 30 year closure period, with the exception of some particularly sensitive series, which are subject to longer closure periods. These are all marked on the catalogue.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

ACC/3444/AD: Administration;
ACC/3444/B: H.M. Institution Borstal;
ACC/3444/CT: Corrective Training Allocation Centre;
ACC/3444/IN: Prison Industries;
ACC/3444/ME: Medical Records;
ACC/3444/PD: Preventative Detention Allocation Centre;
ACC/3444/PH: Photographic Negatives;
ACC/3444/PR: Prisoners;
ACC/3444/SS: Surrey and South London Discharged Prisoners' Aid Society;
ACC/3444/ST: Staff.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 1998.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to these records rests with the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The collection was deposited at London Metropolitan Archives in October 1994, with a further accession in 2000.

Allied Materials

Related material:

See also records of HM Young Offender Institute and Remand Centre, Feltham LMA/4465.

The Public Record Office currently holds registers of prisoners for Wandsworth Prison 1858-1879 (PCOM2/230-289) two volumes of photograph albums 1872-1873 (PCOM2/290-291), and a register of deaths 1914-1951 (PCOM2/472).

Surrey Record Office has records of the Surrey Sessions of the Peace which include material on the Surrey House of Correction.

Publication note:

The Criminal Prisons of London and Scenes of Prison Life, by Henry Mayhew and John Binny (London, 1862) [Library 21.31 MAY]

Prisons and Punishments of London, by Richard Bryne (Harrap, 1989) [Library 21.31 BYR].

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
June to August 2010.

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