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New Gaol Commenced 1836 - Completed 1847, Kingston, Norfolk Island | by Black Diamond Images
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New Gaol Commenced 1836 - Completed 1847, Kingston, Norfolk Island

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In 1825 the British Government once again established a penitentiary on Norfolk Island commencing what has become known as the 'Second Settlement'.

The Old Gaol, built in 1790 during the period of the First settlement (1788-1814), had been fully decommissioned by 1814, after which time Norfolk Island lay abandoned for 11 years.

Construction on the the New Gaol began in 1825 but it was not finished until 1847 although further additions were constructed almost right up to its eventual abandonment in 1855.

The New Gaol was built to house those convicts considered to be of the worst type. So harsh and inhumane were the conditions and punishments that Norfolk Island soon became a place of infamy and dread.

When completed in 1847 the New Gaol contained 84 cells, two lock-up rooms, 10 turnkey's rooms and 10 yards. Prisoners worked in chains on the roads or in the wet quarry in Slaughter Bay.

Two service buildings and a forty-man cell block were completed in 1848. In 1850 a row of solitary confinement rooms, each comprising a cell and yard, was constructed. Two 'dumb' cells designed to prevent the transmission of light or sound were also constructed. Evidence indicates such cells drove the occupant insane.

With the demolition of the Old Gaol in 1828 Prisoners' a 3 storey Prisoners Barracks were built between 1832 and 1835 which included 22 wards accommodating 973 prisoners who slept in rows of hammocks, with between 20 and 120 to a ward.

In 1855 an Imperial Order-In-Council decreed that the truly dreadful prison in Norfolk Island be shut down, and the settlement abandoned.

After 1856 with the arrival of the Pitcairn Islanders the New Gaol complex and Prisoners Barracks were largely abandoned and fell into ruin. Sections of the building walls and their footings can still be seen. Many of the below ground structures, such as the partly brick-lined sewers, are still in excellent condition.

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Uploaded on June 15, 2013