In 1863, John Warren wrote in his diary: "William WELCH of Whaley Bridge was put in the Buxton Lockups for being Drunk and Disordley the cost was all together £4.2s.6d."
The fine was the equivalent of £450 today, a hefty penalty for being drunk.
The location of the Buxton Lock-up is unknown. It had opened in 1829 and was in use until about 1899. The inspector of prisons described it in his 1850 report. It was a detached building with two cells, but no accommodation for a keeper. The building is very ill adapted for its purposes. It had been built at the cost of the township and was intended chiefly for vagrants in want of a nights lodging, and that was its main use. Only one cell was used, the other used to store coal and other articles. This cell is about 9 feet long, 6 feet wide and 6 feet high. It is dry, with an open fire. It had unglazed window, through which people outside might be hand anything in. There were two poles fixed on each side of the cell for seats, and there was some loose straw for bedding. The constable said that there were formerly proper benches, but that they had been pulled to pieces and burnt.'
Many towns and villages had their own lock-ups, established mostly in the 19th century as local police forces were established although some were of a much earlier period. They only served as temporary accommodation, usually for a night or two. Apprehended for a minor offence, an offender might be held whilst waiting to appear before a magistrate or released, their temporary incarceration having been considered sufficient punishment. Most of these were closed when replaced with police stations which had their own cells. Many were accompanied by a set of stocks and often a pen for seized livestock.
Another local lock-up was that at Chapel-en-le-Frith. Built in 1844, its situation was described as convenient and unobjectionable although it had no provision for heating the cells. When inspected one of the cells was found to be damp although the keeper said that this was improving as the new building dried out. The inspector found that the airing yard was insecure and said that no prisoner should be left there unattended.
New Mills had been well provided for. The famous “Drunkard’s Reform” on Dye House Lane had originally been called “The Town Jail”. It is an 18th century building and a former lock-up. The building was purchased in 1854 by Thomas Handford and converted into his home. Handford, a teetotaller for ten years had previously been a notorious drunkard and had spent many a night in the lock-up.
This facility was replaced with a police station on Market Street, possibly at number 58. Between 1854 and 1875, an office named Swallow lived there with his family and another officer. The building also contained a “strong room”
The Police Station in Hall Street, opposite New Mills Library appears to have been built at some time between 1875 and 1878. It was famous for housing in its cells, the ramblers arrested in the Kinder Trespass of 1932. The Constabulary Station closed in 1993, described as “the worst police station in Derbyshire”
Many local lock-ups have survived. They are often distinctive little buildings, commonly with conical roofs. Below are some examples from Derbyshire:
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