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Stirling Old Town Jail’s isolation cell now open to the public

An overlooked part of Stirling’s Old Town Jail is now on public display after years in obscurity.

Visitors can now experience the 19th century jail’s isolation cell where ‘problem’ inmates were kept in near darkness.

Until recently the cell, which is built into the jail’s outer walls, had been locked and inaccessible.

Geoff Morrison of Stirling Old Town Jail said: “The isolation cell at Stirling Old Town Jail is often overlooked by visitors, but now after almost 20 years, members of the public will be able to step inside the original prison isolation cell set into the perimeter wall of the Old Town Jail.

“The cell was used to confine prisoners with just one source of light from a small opening set into the ceiling over 10 metres above.

“The cell provides a new space outwith the main building that visitors can safely explore.”

Previously used for storage, the space was cleared out to reveal the original cell features.

Geoff added: “There was a lot of rubbish and debris which suggests things were stored in there when the building was originally restored following its dereliction.

“The isolation cell is fully enclosed and would have been plastered and heated, although completely dark apart from one small opening in the ceiling.

“It was used as a form of punishment for ‘problem’ prisoners whose behaviour was deemed a threat to themselves or others.

“The cell is remarkably well preserved and is referenced in the audio tour in the Jail as a key part of the prison’s history.”

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The A-listed Old Town Jail dates from 1847. It had 57 individual cells and was built to replace the Tolbooth, which had the reputation as one of the worst prisons in Britain.

The Old Town Jail had been used as a military prison from 1888 to 1935, but eventually fell into serious disrepair.

In 1985 Stirling District Council purchased the property. Restoration commenced in 1992 and the Old Town Jail opened as a visitor attraction the following year.

Stirling Council senior manager for economic development and communities Stuart Oliver, commented: “Tourism is vital to Stirling’s economy and as the sector reopens in line with Scottish Government guidance, I encourage visitors and residents to come along and enjoy our wide range of world-class historic attractions, especially the enhanced experience of the Old Town Jail, in a safe and secure environment.”

Stirling Old Town Jail is now open from 10.15am to 6pm daily with self-guided tours every 30 minutes.



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