Pictures from an empty Holloway Prison
The Tribune took a tour of the now empty Holloway Prison site
07 May, 2019 — By Emily Finch
Registration area for prison officers
Office where prison officers were given access to Holloway
Building for prison officers and where inmates were registered
Gates separating officers from the gardens tended by prisoners
Catflap on a door
The new dance studio which was built shortly before the prison’s closure
The “Pizza Hut” health service centre
The health wing: the sicker the prisoner the lower down the building they would be housed
EVERY corner of the empty site tells the story of the thousands who had to call Holloway prison their home at one point in their life. There are a few spectres of normality – a cat flap, a dance studio and a small health centre nicknamed “the Pizza Hut” by inmates because of an angular shape which resembles the restaurant chain.
But every window features narrow white bars distinguishing each building as somewhere people have had their freedom taken away.
The pristine garden once tended by prisoners, now holds bushes taller than men, with weeds choking the tulips and the roses. Wildflowers have taken over the exercise yard and tiny oak trees are growing in the gaps between the outer wall of the prison and the concrete floor.
On the north corner of the site lies Block D, the health wing. From the outside, it looks similar to any block of flats but the narrow slits for windows reveal their true purpose. A palm tree peeks over the walls of the upstairs terrace, allowed to keep growing with no hands to cut it down.
The perimeter walls are curved to help lessen any damage from explosions, recalling the episode from the prison’s history when suffragettes blew a hole in the wall in defiance of the treatment of women in early 20th century Britain.
Holloway Prison was closed by the then chancellor George Osborne in 2016 in a move that shocked prisoners and prison officers, who were all moved out within weeks of the announcement.
With the women dispersed to prisons outside London, they faced, and continue to face, huge hurdles when accessing services and seeing their families.
In March, housing association giant Peabody announced that it had bought the site from the Ministry of Justice for £81million and now plans to build more than 1,000 homes there, with 600 of them affordable.
But for now, only dog handlers with alsatians roam the 10-acre site day and night.
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