I thought I’d have a crack at Blundeston and can confirm its now locked up with high vis demo chaps wandering around inside and a JCB on site. It quickly became apparent that I was going to struggle with the two 22ft steel perimeter fences and my jeans are not an adequate protection of a gentleman’s precious area against the rolled razor wire on top!
So ‘’Operation Reverse Prison Break’’ was go go go… access is one way in one way out and involved me spending almost two hours squatting in a shrubbery waiting for the ‘window of opportunity’.
Once in it immediately hits you how grim this place is… given that the last prison I wandered around was an old Victorian jail with bucket loads of natural light, bright walls and high ceilings, Blundeston despite being comparatively modern built in the 60’s is dark, miserable and a depressing warren of corridors and tiny damp cells, some of which had four beds crammed in and sharing a single wing toilet between 12 cells!
There is one modern block at the bottom of the site that’s a bit brighter.
The prison was operated by Her Majesty’s Prison Service up until it closed in December 2013.
Opening in 1963 with four wings. Blundeston Prison was initially used for the holding of prisoners sentenced to Preventive Detention of between 5 to 14 years because they were judged to be ‘incorrigible rogues”. Most were transferred from HMP Wandsworth and found the different regime at Blundeston challenging as most of their time was spent in lightly supervised association with other prisoners.
In 1996 the prison came under intense criticism after six inmates escaped whist being transferred to other jails. The escapers had allegedly been running their own ‘criminal empire’ at Blundeston before their transfer.
Before closure, accommodation at the prison included 4 wings of single cells and 2 wings of 2 or 4 man cells. The therapeutic wing had single cell accommodation. Blundeston provided workshops, training courses, a Listener Scheme and a full-time Resettlement Officer. The visitor centre was staffed and managed by the Ormiston Children and Families Trust with facilities including a refreshments area, toilets, public pay phone and play facilities for children.
On 4 September 2013, the Ministry of Justice announced that it intended to close Blundeston Prison by March 2014. The prison formally closed in December 2013. The closure of the prison led to criticism from local politicians, including planning proposals to allow the site to be used for a large housing development. The Ministry of Justice stated that intended to sell the site for redevelopment by the end of 2014, however the site was finally sold in January 2016 for £3 million to Badger Building. The developers are now asking for ideas for the former prison site to be submitted to them before they release planning proposals.