End of the prison hulks

A redundant Blackpool tram in Havant goods yard between 1964 and 1966.  Picture: Barry Cox Collection

A streetcar named Hayling Billy would have run on saved line

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Two weeks ago I wrote about a time when several French convicts escaped from prison hulks in Portsmouth and sailed to France in a comandeered boat.

The hulks were former ships not unlike the Victory that were past their sell-by date. They were used as floating prisons with living conditions of the most terrible kind. Overcrowded, with bad food, cold in winter and sweltering in summer.

In 1850 it was decided to do away with the hulks, although they would still be used as infirmaries.

A prison was built within the dockyard walls in the north-eastern corner. By 1895 the convicts were no longer used for public works and in 1896 the prison, capable of holding 1,500 men, was closed for good.

It has long since been demolished.

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