Opened in 1852, Holloway Prison was the City of London House of Correction and it accommodated both male and female prisoners. The prison’s turreted gateway and imposing structure earned it the moniker of ‘The Castle’ and it was to become a site entrenched within the local landscape.

Newgate Prison was closed in 1902 and the increasing pressure for prison space prompted the decision to make Holloway a female only prison in 1903. It was reported that, in addition to addressing the issue of prison space, this decision also met a broader aim of facilitating the “absolute separation of the sexes.” (Report of the Commissioners of Prisons and the Director of Convict Prisons, for the year ended 31 March 1902, Parliamentary Papers, p. 7). Holloway became the largest female prison in England but was quickly faced with overcrowding and a new wing had to be added in 1906. During the First World War the prison witnessed shortages in provisions and in medical staff and, in its wake, it became a site for enquiry and a subject for debate. It was a site for political protest, notably over the rights of women to vote in the early twentieth century, but also occupies an important place in the history of identifying and advocating for the specific health needs of women. 

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