Prior to 1964 Strangeways had rather a grim history, for 100 years it acted as an execution centre for the region. During this time 100 convicts met their death at the Strangeways’ gallows.
To begin with there was just an execution shed but after WW1 it was replaced with a specially built execution chamber. Both men and women were hanged at Strangeways, but the vast majority were men who had killed women.
On Thursday 13 August 1964, Gwynne Owen Evans became the last prisoner to be hanged at Strangeways; his death marked the end of capital punishment in Manchester and the whole of the UK.
The longest and most destructive riots in Britain’s prison history took place in Strangeways in 1990. The riots changed the history of the prison system, or so it was said at the time. But with the deep cuts to the prison system of today are slipping back to the days of Strangeways?
The riot began in the chapel and lasted 25 days. The riot spread throughout the prison and finally ended when the five last rooftop protesters were brought down in a cherry picker. In an attempt to wear the prisoners down, the authorities cut off the electricity supply, sprayed the roof with cold water and played incessant loud pop music. It didn’t work.
One prisoner was killed and one officer dies of a heart attack. 147 prison officers and 47 inmates were injured in the riot. The prison was completely destroyed on the inside.
Strangeways was rebuilt to a tune of £50 million and rebranded as HMP Manchester.
The riot was caused by horrendous conditions at the prison, three prisoners to a cell made for one, and prisoners locked up for 23 hours a day with nothing to do. The prisoners felt no one was listening to them and they had to do something.
The riot led to the writing of the Woolf report, that concluded that the conditions in the prison were intolerable and led to major recommendations for the future of the prison system.
The Guardian newspaper described the report as a blueprint for the restoration of “decency and justice into jails where conditions had become intolerable”.
HMP Manchester’s Infamous Villains
The prolific killer Harold Shipman was held there on remand whilst awaiting trial. Harold Shipman, born on January 14, 1946, in Nottingham, died January 13, 2004, in HMP Wakefield by suicide. Shipman was British doctor and serial killer who unbelievably murdered at least 215 of his patients. In 2000 he was convicted on 15 counts of murder and one count of forgery and sentenced to life in prison.
Brady committed the notorious moors murders alongside Myra Hindley between July 1963 and October 1965. The pair murdered at least five children; four of the children were known to be sexually assaulted.
Brady was born in Scotland, Glasgow in 1938 and met Myra Hindley when they were working together in a small factory in Manchester.
Brady was sentenced for a minimum of 30 years; he died of natural causes aged 79 and was buried at sea to prevent his grave becoming a shrine or tourist attraction. He dies in 2017 after spending 51 years in jail.
Dale Creegan is an English drug dealer convicted of four murders and three attempted murders. Creegan, infamous for having only one eye, was recently transferred to HMP Manchester after four years in a secure psychiatric hospital. It was ruled he was; bad, not mad’.
It’s thought Creegan had his left eye carved out in unknown circumstances, but he told friend he’d lost it in a fight when he was in Thailand.
Bridger was convicted of the murder of five year old April Jones in 2012. He is currently serving a life sentence. He will spend the rest of his life in prison.
It is thought Bridger sexually assaulted the five year but he disposed of her body so thoroughly it is impossible to prove. Very little of the child’s body was ever found.