SERVED THE COUNTY FAITHFULLY HS BAILEY PRISON ENGINEER (1847-1872)
By Anne Bayliss
(This article first appeared in Staffordshire
History in Spring 2005 and is reproduced with kind permission
of Staffordshire History
and the author)
In the October 1846 Sessions Order Book (Q/SO 1846) it was recorded
that an Engineer was to be appointed to Stafford Gaol 'at weekly
wages not exceeding forty shillings'. In the same document
Prison Wardens' remuneration was not to exceed 20 shillings per
In 1840 transportation of convicts to New South Wales was discontinued
with the result that English prisons had to expand to accommodate
the extra prisoners. Stafford Gaol had been very much enlarged
since the new building had opened in 1793. The most recent development
was a new block opened in December 1846, designed by Joseph Potter
junior, son of the County Surveyor. This provided separate cells,
as introduced at Pentonville Prison, and the design included a
workshop for the Gaol Engineer.
The man appointed to this post was a 32-year-old Londoner, Hugh
Shelley Bailey. This man was my great great grandfather. Oral
family history maintained that, before coming to Stafford, Bailey
had worked on the construction of the Grosvenor Bridge in Chester
with the Staffordshire Architect and Civil Engineer, James Trubshaw
(1777-1853). This was built between 1827 and 1833 and at the time
of its completion was the largest single span stone arch in the
world. Hugh Bailey was also said to have worked on Buckingham
Palace Gates made by H & MD Grissell, of Regent's Canal Iron
Works and erected in 1850.
Hugh Shelley Bailey was born in Lambeth on 2 March 1815, the
son of an Excise Man. After his marriage in St. Mary's Church,
Newington, Surrey in December 1834 to Martha Sheppard, the family
lived in Lambeth until about 1840 when they moved to Chelsea.
When his second son, also Hugh Shelley, was born in December 1840,
HS Bailey senior gave his occupation as 'blacksmith'. By 1845
the family had moved to Westminster and his occupation now being
described as 'smith'.
With his background, Hugh Shelley Bailey arrived in Stafford in
1847 to take up the post of Prison Engineer. His duties at this
time included keeping in good repair and working order ventilation
and warming apparatus, water conduits, gas fittings etc. around
the prison. The design of the new block had included a gas supply
to each cell. In addition tread wheels had to be kept in good
order and there were numerous staircases and long corridors etc.
with iron gates needing large keys for the locks which had to
work at all times. In 1849 the Committee report on the Gaol stated
that the duties of the Engineer were 'great'.
By the end of 1850 £45,000 had been spent enlarging and
improving Gaol buildings. There were now 657 prisoners including
90 females. There were 2 tread wheels for 32 men for grinding
corn and 6 tread wheels for pumping water from deep wells to reservoirs
and cisterns. The County Surveyor, who would overlook this work,
was Charles Trubshaw, the younger brother of James Trubshaw.
In the early 1850s, more land was bought for the expanding gaol
and a new chapel of cruciform shape was built, which opened in
1852. Between 1852 and 1854, the female prison was demolished;
replaced by a divided mixed block. In the mid 1860s, the Crescent
building of 1832-3, which had been designed by the then County
Surveyor, Joseph Potter, was altered and enlarged to give separate
cells. These alterations were designed by current County Surveyor,
Robert Griffiths. Yet more land was acquired and a large circular
kitchen was built 1866-7. It was thought that the prison building
was now complete. New tread wheels and watermills had been fitted
and the public were allowed to have their flour ground by the
prisoners. By 1868 the prison's population had risen to 732.
When the Bailey family first arrived in Stafford, they lived
in Dottell Street, soon moving to Foregate Street. In 1850, at
the birth of his fourth son, HS Bailey described himself as an
'engineer'. In 1853 his salary was 28 shillings per week and in
the following year his job title was 'Superintendent of Engine
Smiths'. The family moved to 12, County Road an address even nearer
to the Gaol.
In 1865, HS Bailey was awarded a bonus of £25 by the Magistrates.
This was to acknowledge his superintendence of the introduction
of bell and gas fittings, the erection of baths and the iron plating
of doors. The following year. Bailey's salary was 35 shillings
per week (£91 per annum) and he was considered to be entitled
to a residence in the Prison 'free of charge or rent'. Naturally,
the family took up this offer and moved into the Gaol. Oral family
history held that my great grandmother, Martha Bailey, was born
in one of the towers of the Gaol. This was obviously not true
because in 1852, when she was born, the family were still living
in Foregate Street.
Hugh Shelley Bailey not only had to contend with heavy duties
but there were other disturbances to the running of the Gaol.
Between 1853 and 1866 there were 10 hangings at Stafford. Particularly
disruptive must have been that of the Rugeley surgeon William
Palmer, when half the country descended on Stafford to watch the
execution 14 June 1856. The local area around the gaol was blocked
with stands, some even erected on house roofs, which could only
be used once the Town Surveyor had certified their safety. After
the hangings the bodies were buried in lime in the Chapel Burial
Ground in the precincts of the Gaol.
In the 1871 census, on 2nd April, Hugh Shelley Bailey's wife,
Martha, was present in their Gaol accommodation, described as
'wife to Head', together with their daughter Martha Catharine
and a granddaughter. However, Hugh Shelley Bailey was not at home
nor was he elsewhere in Stafford (where was he?).
In the report of the Visiting Justices of the Gaol at the October
Sessions 1871, it stated that 'Hugh Bailey, the Engineer, proposed
to resign at Christmas next from ill health' and he had applied
for a pension. The Order granting Hugh Bailey a pension reported
that he was resigning his office 'by reason of confirmed sickness'
supported by a Medical certificate 'of such incapacity'.
There were also testimonials of his good conduct during his service.
For having 'served the County faithfully for twenty-five years'
Hugh Shelley Bailey was awarded an 'Annuity of Eighty Pounds
per annum... for his life... to be payable out of the general
County Rate'. John Pinson was appointed Engineer in place
of Hugh Bailey.
Another family story was that, after leaving Stafford, Hugh Shelley
Bailey had worked at Winson Green Prison, Birmingham. It was not
possible to confirm this as the Home Office stated that all personal
records for prison staff prior to 1900 had been destroyed. However
Hugh and Martha Bailey, having to give up their free accommodation
in the Gaol left Stafford and by 1881 were living in Stone House,
Handsworth. In the census of that year, Hugh now aged 66, gave
as his occupation 'Engineer at Institution'. Was he indeed working
at Winson Green prison, which is quite close to Handsworth?
Hugh Bailey did eventually retire and after his wife Martha died,
19th April 1890, he lived for a short time with his second son,
Hugh Shelley, a Refreshment Contractor of Iron House, 133 &
134, Moor Street, Birmingham. In the 1891 census Hugh senior gave
his occupation as 'Retired Civil Engineer'.
In March 1893 Hugh Shelley Bailey married Mary Turner nee Marsh
at the Register Office in Aston, the couple living at 318 Birchfield
Road, Handsworth. At this time Hugh's occupation was given as
'Superannuated Mechanical Engineer'. In the 1901 census Hugh,
aged 86, is now described as 'gaol pensioner'. Hugh Shelley Bailey
died 10 October 1901 at his home, his death certificate recording
his occupation as 'Civil Engineer Retired'. The notice in the
Birmingham Post reported that he was 'late engineer H.M. Prison,
Stafford' and was interred at Witton Cemetery. This was almost
thirty years after being granted an Annuity of £80 for life
for his services at Stafford Gaol.
Bayliss, Anne, The Life and Works of James Trubshaw 1777-1853,
Brodie A, Croom J, Davies J. Behind Bars, The Hidden Architecture
of England's Prisons. English
Victoria County History of Staffordshire, Volume VI
Staffordshire History Volume 3, The Chaplaincy of Stafford Prison
Personal communication from Mr A J Standley.
Standley Manuscripts, William Salt Library.
Reports of the Visiting Justices of the Gaol.
White's History & Gazetteer & Directory of Staffordshire
Harrod's Directory of Staffordshire (1870).
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