Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Worcester City Gaol

Laslett's Almshouses in Friar Street may look old, but in fact they are mock Tudor, from 1912. The site was first used as part of the Friary of the Greyfriars, who had their chapel outside the City Wall, where the furniture shop is now in Carden Street.
The City Gaol from the early 1800s was in the former Friary buildings. It was traditional for charitable gentry, usually ladies, to present dinners to the prisoners on Christmas day or Boxing day, and the prisoners would show their gratitude by advertisements in newspapers: "The prisoners in the City Gaol return thanks to a lady: for a dinner of beef, ale and potatoes", thus appeared in Berrow's Journal for January 1st, 1824. The "new" City Gaol (which appears in the picture) was obviously up to date, since the same newspaper a week later says "It is understood that when the new city gaol shall be ready for the reception of inmates, the magistrates will take active steps for reforming them, by introducing a treadmill".
This new gaol was designed by George Byfield, who also built the House of Industry on Tallow Hill and is commemorated in the street name there: Byfield Rise. To help the prisoners, the governor would allow the 'trusties' to wait at table at his dinner parties. One individual was even trusted to carry the lamp to light the guests back to their houses. Until one night he went missing, and so did several items of silver. After the County Gaol was built in Castle Street, William Laslett bought the buildings in 1867 and used the cells as almshouses for poor couples, his money paying for them to be replaced eventually by the present almshouses.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Malverns - Going under the hills

Fascinating story of Malvern's two railway tunnels in this BBC website.

Thursday, September 01, 2005


Cornucopia, an online database of information about more than 6,000 collections in the UK's museums, galleries, archives and libraries. Whether you are interested in painters or politicians, dinosaurs or space travel, the Romans or the Victorians, Cornucopia can tell you what is available and where to see it.