Wales Travel

Ruthin Gaol (prison)

I’ve seen a very interesting special episode at Time Team about old gaol and the life of the prisoners, so I was keen to visit the Ruthin Gaol. Loved it!

The staff is helpful and nice. One of the ladies had a lovely welsh accent, quite rare, at least in this part of Wales.



The kitchens were big, but the menu wasn’t that diversified.


This is a very strange rolling pin, I’ve asked the lady from Aberconwy house about it and she told me it was used to brake oats.



This is what the men would have to “work” on. They had to rotate the handle a few thousands time every day. The box contained sand or it had a screw. It was meant as a form of exercise. Keeping the inmates tired meant they were much easier to handle.


On every wall there were signs with pictures and stories and info about life in prison.


At the begging the prisoners were photographed by a professional, but soon the prisons bought cameras, so they could take the picture easily and cheaper. This is a real camera that was used in Manchester to track the inmates. This was the first step to make records. Another one was the introduction of the fingerprinting in 1901, by Scotland Yard.


These are the real keys used in the prison.


Women and men were kept in the same prison. After a few reforms in the system, it was decided that they will be kept separate. Also, the women worked for real, for example washing clothes, and got paid. I think was much better that the “work” men were doing: box sand or braking rocks. The men were “lucky” enough to spend time on the big treadmill.


With new reforms, in the late 17th century, the prisoners had 1 bath every week.