NOSTALGIA: Like hamsters in a wheel, these convicts went around in circles

Inmates at Kingston Prison, Portsmouth, on the treadwheel which was abolished in 1898.
Inmates at Kingston Prison, Portsmouth, on the treadwheel which was abolished in 1898.
The smashed glass in the door at Johnny Black Photography in Southsea

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No, it’s not what you think! The picture on the right might have made you smile, but it was no laughing matter.

For these were convicts in Kingston Prison, Portsmouth, seen in a rare and unusual late 19th century photograph.

St Andrews (known as the Crinoline Church) at Eastney Barracks in 1905.

St Andrews (known as the Crinoline Church) at Eastney Barracks in 1905.

It, and all the others here today, are among dozens of pictures of the city unearthed by author Philip MacDougall in his new book Historic England: Portsmouth (Amberley £14.99). Many of the photographs are taken from the Historic England archive containing 12 million images.

Kingston Prison dated to 1877 when prison life was considerably more brutal than today.

In this picture inmates are working on a treadwheel.

Designed to keep prisoners occupied, the wheel was kept rotating by each convict stepping on a series of slats. As the wheel turned the prisoners were forced to maintain a steady stepping pace. It was abolished in all British prisons by the Prisons Act 1898.

St Andrews (known as the Crinoline Church) at Eastney Barracks in 1905.

St Andrews (known as the Crinoline Church) at Eastney Barracks in 1905.

The second picture is the deep-diving test tank at what was once HMS Vernon (now Gunwharf Quays) taken in 1994. It was the base with responsibility for training in diving, demolitions and mine warfare.

The Royal Yacht Victoria and Albert with George V on board passes a line of warships during the fleet review at Spithead on July 26, 1924.

The Royal Yacht Victoria and Albert with George V on board passes a line of warships during the fleet review at Spithead on July 26, 1924.

Eastney Barracks, 1926. An aerial view of the Royal Marine Barracks. At that time it was home to the Portsmouth Division of the Corps. Built between 1862 and 1867 to a design drawn up by William Scamp of the Admiralty Works Department, the barracks were the major backdrop to the 1955 war film The Cockleshell Heroes who did much of their training in and around the barracks.

Eastney Barracks, 1926. An aerial view of the Royal Marine Barracks. At that time it was home to the Portsmouth Division of the Corps. Built between 1862 and 1867 to a design drawn up by William Scamp of the Admiralty Works Department, the barracks were the major backdrop to the 1955 war film The Cockleshell Heroes who did much of their training in and around the barracks.