Photo Study – Strangeways Prison – Manchester

photo taken by me - Strangeways Prison, Manchester
Preston, England
May 11, 2016 5:41am CST
One of the creepiest, most chilling sights in Manchester is the watch-tower of Strangeways Prison, in the Cheetham Hill district of the city. The official name is HM Manchester Prison – the nickname Strangeways, as ironic as it sounds is actually the real name of the land it occupies. It first opened in 1868. The word Strangeways is Saxon for fast flowing stream though the prison life is a stagnant one. The tower rises high over six prison wing spokes enabling just a few wardens to see over all the wings and courtyards from what became known as a Panopticon view. My Dad used to tell me quite falsely that the tower was used for hangings with prisoners to be executed being dropped the entire length of the tower in total darkness until just inches from the floor at its base where their necks would snap. It gave me nightmares through my childhood. Strangeways has only two kinds of prisoners. 1/. Local remand felons awaiting trial and movement to other prisons 2/. Maximum security high profile criminals and those in danger of trying to escape. Many hangings were conducted at Strangeways up to 1964, and the famous hang-man, Albert Pierrepoint conducted a great deal of work at the prison. Famous inmates have included Moors Murderer Ian Brady, though he was only in Strangeways on robbery convictions. Mass murderer Harold Shipman was temporarily remanded here. TV presenter David Dickenson who presents antiques evaluation shows was incarcerated here for fraud. IRA supporter, and novelist, Brendan Behan did time in Strangeways. Strangeways is a scary part of our skyline. I seriously doubt if I could survive long in there. Arthur Chappell
15 people like this
14 responses
@glenniah (1201)
• Mandurah, Australia
11 May 16
Sounds as if it carries a lot of history,. I didn't know David Dickenson was there, my husband would have been most upset.
2 people like this
• Preston, England
12 May 16
@glenniah Dickinson served time for mail order fraud when he was about 19 - he was in Strangeways for 3 years - he was the inspiration for TV's Lovejoy, a shady antique dealer turned private detective
@marlina (79753)
• Canada
11 May 16
I wouldn't want to be in there, that's all I can say! Creepy scene.
2 people like this
@teamfreak16 (42070)
• Denver, Colorado
11 May 16
Is this where The Smith's got Strangeways Here We Come?
1 person likes this
• Preston, England
12 May 16
@teamfreak16 yes very much so - there is also a Mike Harding folk-comedy song called The Strangeways Hotel
1 person likes this
@BelleStarr (39920)
• United States
11 May 16
I gather it is still an active prison? I would not want to live close to it, it is a sad place for sure and scary.
1 person likes this
• Preston, England
12 May 16
@BelleStarr yes it is still very much in use
1 person likes this
@boiboing (12881)
• Northampton, England
11 May 16
It's a horrible prison but a beautiful building (from the outside). Will never forget the riots with so many prisoners sitting on the roof and pulling the slates off.
1 person likes this
• Preston, England
12 May 16
@boiboing we could see the prisoners and the huge police presense round the prison through the riot, in which there were two deaths
@Jessicalynnt (47879)
• Centralia, Missouri
11 May 16
it does rather tower above as if to remind people it's always there, waiting
1 person likes this
@LadyDuck (183352)
• Switzerland
11 May 16
You are right that this is not a pleasant view. I would not like to see this tower from my windows.
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@JohnRoberts (65386)
• Los Angeles, California
11 May 16
That tower is striking as well as chilling. Strangeways is a great name for a prison and perfect for a TV series.
1 person likes this
@marguicha (104310)
• Chile
11 May 16
Prisons are not nice places. I went to see from the outside the prison in Aruba and it was shocking to have that near such natural beauty. I guess we need them, though.
1 person likes this
@msiduri (5743)
• United States
11 May 16
It is creepy. And your dad sure did his part to creep you out with his stories. Shame on him. He should have known people aren't hanged like that—not for humanitarian reasons, of course—but for practical. The rope could break more easily or the poor victim hit something or someone on his way down.
1 person likes this
11 May 16
David Dickenson?! Prison? I had no idea. We have a maximum security prison just down the road from where I live. It's a lot more modern that Strangeways!
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@RasmaSandra (20414)
• Daytona Beach, Florida
11 May 16
It gives me the chills just looking at the photo @arthurchappell The stuff nightmares are made of.
1 person likes this
@jaboUK (55198)
• United Kingdom
11 May 16
I've never been inside prison, it would be interesting to be able to have a look.
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@gudheart (12741)
11 May 16
Oh the sight of that just spooks me out!
1 person likes this