Police Take A Prisoner To Strangeways (1910-1920)

Manchester Police (1910-1920): British Pathé

This is a short film lasting less than two minutes. But it’s a fascinating glimpse back to a world of policemen transporting suspects in their locked carriages, pulled by horses.

A Man Is Arrested

The opening scene shows a number of people being rough with a suspect. It’s unfortunate that the room was so dark, which limits how much you can see of the suspect or the men manhandling him. There seem to be two men wearing bowler hats.

Next, we see a police officer on the back of the prisoner transport carriage. He’s sporting a large satchel slung over his shoulders. But the distinctive hat and dark clothing are clear forerunners to the police uniforms we remember from the 1970s and 80s.

Presumably the suspect who appeared in the first scene is now in the carriage.

A large crowd of men has gathered at the gates. Is there news about the suspect, or are they aware there is a filmmaker in town? They initially all keep staring down the alley towards the camera as the carriage leaves the gates, but then they do turn to watch the carriage head down the street

Arrival At Strangeways

The streets seem to be gloomy. Perhaps it’s the effect of coal fires in homes and industrial buildings, or maybe just a drizzly day.

HM Prison Manchester, built in 1868 to an Alfred Waterhouse design and still in operation as a high-security men’s prison even today, is commonly known as Strangeways. Costing £170,000 to build and with an initial capacity of 1,000 inmates, the prison had a distinctive entrance building which appears in this film. 

When the prisoner transport arrives at the prison, two sets of doors are opened. The first is the outer wooden door, quickly followed by the interior metal gates.

The officers move quickly to close both sets of gates before the prisoner transport carriage stops to release its human cargo.

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