Law & Order – Duke Street Prison

Photo of Duke St Prison, Glasgow
Duke Street Prison

The jail was in the heart of the city less than 800 metres from the City Chambers. It received its first inmates in 1798 and was in constant use until its closure in 1955. One of eight prisons in and around the city during the period, it held both male and female prisoners until the opening of Barlinnie Prison in 1882, after which it functioned as a women’s prison.  

Duke Street was the site of executions in Glasgow between 1865 and 1928. In the 20th century twelve people were executed here by hanging, including the last female prisoner to be executed in Scotland in 1923. All were found guilty of murder.  

Interestingly the old Ordnance Survey maps (1895) depict a blank space where the prison is. This is a security feature of Ordnance Survey Mapping in general. No prisons or military installations are shown, but the blank space gives a clue to something being there. However on the Glasgow University website there is a link to Thomas Sulman’s 1864 Bird’s Eye View of Glasgow, drawn from a hot air balloon, which shows the layout of the prison. 

Sheila Duffy member 219

GWSFHS Members receive full access to articles and commenting.