The forbidding buildings at Duke Street Prison, with exercise ground in front, photographed in 1909. It was also known as the Northern Prison.
The first prisoners were incarcerated at the House of Correction in Duke Street in 1798, and various extensions were built between then and 1872. Conditions were notoriously poor with chronic overcrowding. The Prisons (Scotland) Act of 1877 transferred responsibility for prisons from local authorities to the State. Although Barlinnie Prison, opened in 1882, was intended to supersede Duke Street Prison, the latter remained open until 1955.
A possibly exaggerated account of conditions at Duke Street Prison is commemorated in a Glasgow street song:
There is a happy land, doon Duke Street Jail,
Where a' the prisoners stand, tied tae a nail.
Ham an' eggs they never see, dirty watter fur yer tea;
There they live in misery - God save the Queen!
Reference: Heatherbank Museum of Social Work, print 4010
Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow Caledonian University, Research Collections, Heatherbank Museum of Social Work
Barlinnie Prison, Duke Street Prison, gaols, jails, North Prison, Northern Prison, prisoners, prisons, Prisons (Scotland) Act 1877, street songs