Listed Building Status for Wormwood Scrubs

The prison is recognised for its architectural and historic interest

Wormwood Scrubs Prison in Du Cane Road W12 has been given listed building status.

The chapel and gatehouse of the famous prison have been given Grade II* status while the Victorian cell blocks have been made Grade II.

The chapel has been described by English Heritage as one of the largest and finest prison chapels in England. The gatehouse, meanwhile, which became famous as the entrance to the fictitious Slade Prison in the BBC TV series, Porridge, incorporates terracotta busts of John Howard and Elizabeth Fry, who are recognised for their work towards prison reform.

Designed in 1874 by Edmund du Cane, then director of convict prisons, Wormwood Scrubs was completed in 1891 by using convict labour. The prisoners lived on the site until the project was finished.

A spokesman for English Heritage said recognition of the importance of Wormwood Scrubs prison was long overdue: "The prison as a whole is of radical importance in 19th century prison development.

"The design approach was viewed as progressive in terms of prisoner welfare and prison management, providing workshops, hospital, recreational and spiritual support; it was economical to build, answering the acute problem at that time of how and where to house convicts before deportation,” he said.

A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: "The Scrubs have been an iconic part of the London landscape for more than a century. Listing will help the buildings remain so.”

The pioneering 1930s former Wormholt Library and Child Welfare Centre in Shepherd's Bush has also gained Grade II listed building status.

Listed buildings, which cannot be altered, extended or demolished without planning permission, are buildings which are recognised as being of special architectural or historic interest.

26 March 2009

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Gatehouse with busts of John Howard and Elizabeth Fry

Wormwood Scrubs Chapel

Picture courtesy of English Heritage

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