RE-BUILDING HOLLOWAY

In 1968, when plans were announced for the reorganisation of the women’s prison system, Holloway was singled out for redevelopment. The aim of this scheme was to provide better facilities for the treatment of women in prison, who needed care not punishment. Although some argued that the prison should be moved outside London, the Prison Department thought it was important to keep links with the local area and with medical expertise in particular. The desire to stay in Islington was also to do with ideas about the site’s future. In the 1960s, the numbers of women in prison were low and seemed to be falling: the Prison Department thought it was possible that in a few decades, there wouldn’t be any need for a women’s prison. Their intention was to design an institution that could be converted into a hospital or treatment centre if a prison was no longer needed. Of course, this didn’t happen. But now that the prison is closed, we have a good opportunity to continue the tradition of the site’s use as a space for women -just this time outside the Criminal Justice System, as was envisaged in the 1960s. From a heritage perspective, the arguments for locating a Women’s Building on the Holloway site are strong - the land has been the focus of campaigns for better conditions for women for over a century. The site has seen the provision of some services for women within prison, but also hundreds of campaigns for change - whether that’s ending the handcuffing of pregnant women, remembering those who have died in prison, or arguing against the violence of the prison system