Agency VA 863
His Majesty's Gaol, Pentridge (known as Pentridge Prison)
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Date Range: 1850 - 1997
 
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Pentridge Prison was originally established as a temporary stockade in 1850 to alleviate overcrowding at the Melbourne Gaol. It was known as the Pentridge Stockade Complex, an ad-hoc group of structures built by the prisoners.

In 1858, construction began on Inspector General William Champ's model prison complex, based on British models, and incorporating a new system of prisoner classification and ideas about penal reform. The prison continued to be enlarged and expanded throughout the 1860s and 1870s and became known as the Pentridge Penal Establishment. Following the Stawell Royal Commission of 1870, an extensive work program for prisoners was introduced.

In 1894, a new prison was erected within the outer walls of Pentridge for female prisoners. The Female Prison, Pentridge (VA 4141) was proclaimed in May 1894 under the Gaols Act 1890, as a separate establishment for female prisoners, operating within the walls of Pentridge Gaol.

In 1932, the Female Prison was incorporated, along with the Metropolitan Gaol and the Penal Establishment Pentridge, into His Majesty's Gaol, Pentridge. Both the Female Prison and the Metropolitan Prison were revoked as separate institutions. From 1933, female prisoners were held in the Female Division within HM Gaol Pentridge, under the charge of a Matron, while the former Metropolitan Gaol became D Division, the receiving division for the whole of Pentridge.

The consolidation of Pentridge meant that the prison system became more centralised, with most prisoners being received at Pentridge before being assessed, classified and then sent to other prisons. It was also the largest prison in Victoria, accounting for approximately half the prisoners in Victoria at any time.

Under the provisions of the Indeterminate Sentences Act 1907 (No. 2106), Pentridge was classified as a combination Reformatory Prison and Gaol, unlike most of the other prisons in Victoria which were classified as one or the other. The Penal Reform Act 1956 (No. 5961) abolished Reformatory Prisons and Pentridge became known as Her Majesty's Prison, Pentridge.

G Division was the prison's on-site hospital for prisoners.

The conditions at Pentridge were often not ideal, with many annual reports noting the poor conditions and overcrowding. As a maximum security prison, Pentridge was often the site of prisoner uprisings and protests, the most famous being the prison fire in the Jika Jika High Security Unit in 1987, which resulted in the deaths of five prisoners and the closure of the Jika Jika Unit.

In April 1995, the Office of Corrections ordered that the six main towers at Pentridge be closed, since most of the high security prisoners from the jail had been relocated to Barwon as part of the downgrading of Pentridge to a medium security prison.

Pentridge closed in December 1997 and was replaced by the privately run Port Phillip Prison.

 
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Date Range Series Title Series Number Series Location Public Access
? 1842 - 1965 Returns of Criminals Executed in Victoria and Prisoners Sentenced to Death Whose Sentence Has Been Commuted VPRS 16631 North Melbourne Open
? 1875 - ? 1932 Registers of Personal Descriptions of Prisoners Received VPRS 10858 North Melbourne Part Open
? 1890 - 1988 Visiting Justices' Register VPRS 11767 North Melbourne Closed
? 1905 - 1996 Governor's General Correspondence Subject Files VPRS 11895 North Melbourne Closed
? 1907 - ? 1933 Record Of Officers' Time Off In Lieu (To be Transferred to Place of Deposit) VPRS 10906 Other Not Applicable
? 1909 - ? 1956 Female Prisoners Earnings Book VPRS 4840 North Melbourne Open
? 1915 - ? 1926 Note Book re Prisioner Management, W. Gleeson VPRS 16627 North Melbourne Open
? 1943 - 1997 Register of Charges Heard Before the Governor VPRS 10136 North Melbourne Closed
? 1945 - ? 1970 Muster Book (Destroyed) VPRS 539 Other Not Applicable
? 1947 - ? 1948 Time Book: Hours Worked, Female Warders Pentridge (DESTROYED) VPRS 10902 Other Not Applicable
? 1953 - ? 1971 Statistical Reports (Female Prisons) VPRS 4838 North Melbourne Open
? 1958 - ? 1960 Visitors Book D Division (DESTROYED) VPRS 10914 Other Not Applicable
? 1960 - ? 1969 Register of Officers On Duty - Weekend and Holidays (DESTROYED) VPRS 10122 Other Not Applicable
? 1962 - ? 1965 In-Patients Muster Book, D Division (DESTROYED) VPRS 10921 Other Not Applicable
1850 - ? 1941 Register of Names, Particulars and Personal Descriptions of Prisoners Received VPRS 521 North Melbourne Part Open
1850 - 1854 Personal Description Of Prisoners Received Book VPRS 10861 North Melbourne Open
1850 - 1996 Register of Prisoners Received and Discharged, "J" Division VPRS 10874 North Melbourne Closed
1851 - By 1853 Outward Letter Book VPRS 5688 North Melbourne Closed
1857 - 1907 Penal Police Record Book VPRS 10939 North Melbourne Open
1868 - 1880 Superintendent's Record Book, Female Prison VPRS 549 North Melbourne Open
Functions for which this Agency has or has had primary responsibilityFunctions for which this Agency has or has had primary responsibility
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Date of Responsibility Function Title Function Number
1850 - 1997 Prisons and correctional services VF 60
Functions for which this Agency has or has had secondary responsibilityFunctions for which this Agency has or has had secondary responsibility
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Superior AgenciesSuperior Agencies
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1850 - 1851 Superintendent, Port Phillip District VA 473
1851 - 1855 Colonial Secretary's Office VA 856
1855 - 1871 Chief Secretary's Department VA 475
1871 - 1960 Penal and Gaols Branch, Chief Secretary's Department VA 1464
1960 - 1971 Social Welfare Branch, Chief Secretary's Department VA 2784
1971 - 1979 Social Welfare Department VA 946
1979 - 1983 Department of Community Welfare Services VA 613
1983 - 1992 Office of Corrections VA 1063
1992 - 1997 Department of Justice VA 3085
Subordinate AgenciesSubordinate Agencies
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1850 - 1997 Prisons and Youth Training Centres VRG 9