Runmours about Gartree Prison’s use

Speculation was rife 50 years ago this week that the under-construction Gartree Prison would be used for holding some of the worst criminals in Britain.

And official sources at the Home Office were neither confirming or denying the rumours.

The Mail ran a story on February 18, 1965, under the headline “Rumours grow about Gartree

Prison but Home Office is keeping mum”.

Of course, time is the great resolver of such rumours, and from the comfortable distance of five decades we now know that these rumours were indeed true.

It is a Category B prison and specialist ‘lifer’ centre for offenders serving life sentences for crimes such as armed robbery, murder and manslaughter.

Mail photographer of the day Michael Woolley took these photos.

Construction of the prison began in early 1963 and by February 1965 workers were engaged in ‘mopping up’ duties at the site.

A total of 80 ‘warders’ were set to live on a 27-acre estate immediately adjoining the prison.

At the time, the ratio was due to be 41 prisoners per warder.

The Mail reported that Foxton was ‘bubbling’ with rumours over the future use of the prison.

A Home Office spokesman ‘emphatically’ refused to discuss the future of the prison.