Twerton Gaol

Twerton Gaol on Caledonian Rd

Twerton Gaol (the original spelling), was designed by architect George Manners (who was Bath City Architect from 1823 – 1862) and opened in 1843. It was erected in Caledonian Road, where it would have been in easily seen from the Royal Crescent (built a century earlier). It was therefore designed to look more like a stately home than a prison from the outside though we understand that, apart from the Governor’s residence (which faced the Royal Crescent), the inside contained no luxuries (there are references to a treadmill-operated grinding machine for converting rocks into fragments for the construction and road building industries). The prison was built to replace the original one in Grove Street, which was overcrowded and prone to flooding, and it housed what today would be called “low grade” offenders such as debtors and fraudsters. It closed in 1878, and was then put to other uses. Some time before the war the building behind the Governor’s quarters, which was originally part of the prison, was occupied by Walters Engineering Ltd, and Ivor Walters lived almost opposite it. In this modern picture, the outside of the Governor’s House is still very like it originally looked but now it is owned by the Guinness Housing Association and, since 1991 (which is also the date when the building occupied by Walter’s Engineering was demolished and replaced by more Guinness Housing association apartments), it has been occupied by the tenants. Part of the exercise yard is now gardens for the residents and part is occupied by some new buildings and their parking spaces.

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