'End of an era' as Hull Prison's C and D wings shut
THEY have been home to thousands of prisoners for more than 140 years.
Within the walls of Hull Prison's C and D wings, ten criminals – hanged in the jail in the early 1900s – are buried.
But the wings, which have been open since 1870, have now closed for the final time.
"So much has gone on in those wings," said Rob Nicholson, prison officer and chairman of the Hull branch of the Prison Officers' Association.
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"It is devastating to think of all the history and everything that has happened behind those walls.
"It feels very eerie to stand in them now, knowing all of the executions happened there and now they have just closed.
"It is the end of an era for the prison."
D Wing closed yesterday after it was announced in January both would shut with the loss of 282 beds. C Wing has already closed.
About 70 prison officers are expected to lose their jobs because of the closures, which were announced by the Ministry of Justice last month to make the prison service more "efficient and effective".
The last 15 prisoners based on D wing were this week moved to jails in Everthorpe, near Brough, and Northallerton, in North Yorkshire.
The Hedon Road jail is now holding 740 inmates. During an inspection last year, it was home to more than 1,000 men.
Mr Nicholson, who also co-ordinates an exhibition on the history of the prison, said: "Bearing in mind that both were not due to close until the end of March, they have really worked to shut them as soon as possible.
"The wings have closed, the prisoners have been moved, but the feelings of staff have not changed. Morale is still very low and we are still living with uncertainty.
"Reducing the number of prison officers we have is a recipe for disaster. The prisoners will not be getting the decency or rehabilitation that they should be, which could put public safety at risk.
"We have empty accommodation at the prison, yet we still have two offenders sharing cells made for one person."
Last week, POA members from Hull took part in a national demonstration against the cuts in Westminster.
Officers have also been supported by city MPs Karl Turner and Alan Johnson.
The two wings have been "mothballed", meaning they could reopen if required.
As part of government plans, six other jails across the country will close completely, with two others facing partial closures.
The Ministry of Justice also announced plans to create a 2,000-place "super jail", which will be located in London, North Wales or the north west of England.
Mr Grayling said: "The decision to close, or partially close, places is based on the suitability, sustainability and the cost of this accommodation.
"We have to bring down the cost of our prison system, much of which is old and expensive."
The governor of Hull Prison, Norman Griffin, was unavailable for comment.