Kingston Prison reopens its doors as backdrop for film

A scene from Solitary
A scene from Solitary
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HMP Kingston has had a brief new lease of life – as a set for a film.

The prison, on Milton Road, closed earlier this year but reopened for a few days as the main location for the film Solitary.

The gritty drama focuses on the relationship of estranged siblings and follows the journey of Nora, an alcoholic young woman who is struggling to hold onto her crumbling life and lands herself in prison.

A number of locations in the prison were used including the cells, the centre of the wings and the isolations cells.

As well as HMP Kingston, the film also features other areas of Portsmouth including Clarence Pier, Southsea Common and Little Johnny Russells, in Albert Road, Southsea.

Katherine McEwan, who starred in Alien Armageddon and has produced short films such as Patriots, plays the main character Nora and also wrote and produced Solitary.

She said: ‘I wanted to use Portsmouth as a filming location because it has always held a special kind of charm for me.

‘I grew up in the north east and would come down to Portsmouth and Southsea every summer to visit my relatives.

‘I loved everything about it as a kid – the pier, the amusement arcades, the pebble beaches.

‘Portsmouth seems to have an air of nostalgia about it, and since Solitary is a film that deals with the past, I thought it would be the perfect setting to film it.’

Different organisations in the city helped with the production and put out advertisements to get extras.

Katharine added: ‘The people were so friendly and welcoming.

‘Everyone went above and beyond to support the production – we really couldn’t have done it without them.

‘We all had a great time working in Portsmouth. The city is a unique combination of the old and the new, so we had a wide range of fantastic locations to shoot in.’

The film is currently being edited and it is aimed to be in production early next year.

Joe Calzaghe, retired professional boxer, visited Portsmouth for the film production and made a cameo appearance as a prison guard.

HMP Kingston is owned by the Ministry of Justice but a decision is yet to be made on what it will become.

A spokesman said: ‘We are working with the local planning authority about the future plans of the Kingston Prison but a decision is not likely to be made until next year.’