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Call for contributions: Islington Museum seeks memories of Holloway Prison

Holloway Holloway Castle postcard c1900s. Picture Credit- Islington Local History Centre.

Holloway Holloway Castle postcard c1900s. Picture Credit- Islington Local History Centre.

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Islington Museum and Heritage Service is asking for community contributions to its latest National Lottery funded project – Echoes of Holloway Prison, which will investigate London’s last women’s prison through the stories of its inmates, staff and the local community.

Until its closure in May 2016, Holloway Prison was largest women’s prison in Europe, holding up to 450 inmates including both adult women and young offenders. Converted to a female-only establishment in 1902, the prison has housed women from all over Britain, including many suffragettes in the early 1900s.

Led by Islington Museum curator Roz Currie, Echoes of Holloway Prison will explore the gap left in the community by the closure of the prison, and act as a crucial record of this highly significant place, ensuring that its stories are not lost to the borough or wider community.

The Museum is reaching out to the public to ask for their contributions – and their stories. Anything, small or large, would be considered.

The project will also work with local volunteers and ex-prisoners, who will receive training in transferable skills such as research, documentation and using archives, blogging and web publication as part of the project, to help them tell their stories.

Objects, photos and stories contributed by the public will form part of an Echoes of Holloway Prison exhibition at Islington Museum, planned for the summer, as well as a series of pop-up exhibits to tour libraries in the borough and other local community centres to ensure others in the borough can access the stories.

Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the Echoes of Holloway Prison project has been funded through a £73,700 award from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Islington Councillor Asima Shaikh, Executive Member for Economic Development, said:

“Holloway prison has housed women from all over Britain in its history, and hosted a range of services for female offenders – the closure of the prison has left a gap. Thanks to the support made possible by National Lottery players, Echoes of Holloway will explore our collective memories of this important local landmark.

“I’m delighted that Echoes of Holloway will be a truly grassroots history project – one that shares the views of local people, their memories and their stories.

“We invite members of the public with any connection to Holloway Prison to get involved, and share their stories, objects they are comfortable donating, and photographs.

“We’re interested in both the old, Victorian prison and the newer Holloway Prison that was rebuilt in the 1970s and 80s.  We’d love to hear from former prisoners, prison staff and volunteers, people who lived in the area or who visited inmates there.

“Prisons are part of the way we choose to run our society– they are the end point of our justice system. And for that reason, it’s important to understand what happens inside them.

“It’s vital as a community that we capture the echoes of our important places before they’re gone forever.”

Stuart Hobley, Head of HLF London, said: 

“Since the mid-1800s, the prison has been a feature in the local landscape. There are many extraordinary histories to be told, from the Suffragettes imprisoned in the early 1900s, to those who worked there up until the closure a few years ago. Some of these stories are challenging and emotive, and many will help this project to chronicle how the heritage of Holloway has reflected our own societal changes.”

Notes to editors:

  • Members of the public who have objects/photos from Holloway Prison they would consider donating, or who have stories they would like to share (and are able to participate in group workshops) should contact Islington Museum Curator Roz Currie:

  • About the Heritage Lottery Fund: 
    Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife.  Follow HLF on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #HLFsupported.

  • For more information on the Echoes of Holloway Prison project, see:

For further information please contact:

Kate Robson
Senior Media Officer
Islington Council
Room G16, Upper Street, London, N1 2UD
Tel: 0207 527 8004
Out of hours mob: 07769 163303
Alternative contact: Media line 020 7527 2307
Follow us on Twitter @IslingtonBC and @IslingtonLife