As you explore Inveraray Jail, you’ll meet some of its past inhabitants along the way. Costumed characters, based on actual prisoner records, roam the historic building and animate the past with their stories. They’re always happy to talk! Here are three of the jail’s characters that you’re most likely to bump into!
Warder Andrew Boyd
You’ll know when the Warder’s coming the jangle of his keys and the sound of his heavy boots ringing in the corridor. Andrew Boyd is one of the prison’s longest serving warders. His job is to make sure that prisoners get fed, exercised, washed, educated and punished. He’s also there to make sure they don’t escape! Unfortunately, a few did escape under his watch and he’d love to tell you how he got them back behind bars. He’s a pretty stern character, so don’t expect to make him laugh. In fact, he might even lock you up! He’s been known to put visitors behind bars, lock the door and walk away.
Matron Janet Thompson
Watch out for Matron. She doesn’t stand for any nonsense. You’ll find her down in the prison, dressed head-to-toe in black, bonnet on head and keeping everything in order. She’s stern, but fair, and she never smiles. The first Matron at Inveraray was Janet Thompson who arrived as one half of a husband-and-wife team when Malcolm Thompson was appointed Governor in 1841. Matron was there to ensure the ‘total welfare’ of the female prisoners, from health and well-being to education and employment. She would carry our daily checks to make sure that all the women were keeping in good health, taking exercise and practicing good personal hygiene. So make sure you smell nice and clean when you visit Inveraray Jail or Matron might stick you in the cells!
Prisoner Elizabeth Henderson
When you’re passing Cell 4 in the Old Prison, take a look through the bars and you’ll see Elizabeth Henderson. She’ll be brushing the floor, eating her lunch or sewing herring nets. If you linger, she’ll start to tell you her story. She may start to sob and tell you how lonely she is. She’ll tell you her sad tale of poverty. How she was thrown out of her family
home and was sent to live with her aunt. How it was a hard life, and with no money, no husband and no children, she turned to the bottle. Then she started to steal to pay for her gin. And that’s how she ended up in Inveraray Jail! She was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail in 1850, but after eight months was transferred to Perth to serve the rest.
If you want to hear more dramatic stories from the jail’s past, then make sure you pick up your FREE audio guide when you visit the jail. Hear from the Governor and other prisoners, including children, about life in this fascinating 19th-century prison.