HMP Belfast, also known as Crumlin Road Gaol, is a former prison situated on the Crumlin Road in north Belfast, colloquially known as the Crum.[1]

It ceased to be an operational prison in 1996.

It is a grade A listed building status because of its architectural and historical significance.

Designed by Sir Charles Lanyon, it was opened in 1846 as a replacement for the County Gaol on Antrim Street in Carrickfergus.

The prison was originally built to hold between 500 and 550 prisoners in single cells that measured 3.65m x 2.13m.

It was the first prison in Ireland to be built according to “The Separate System”, intended to separate prisoners from each other with no communication between them.

When originally designed, the prison did not contain gallows and the executions were carried out in public view until 1901. An execution chamber was constructed within the prison walls and used until the last of the hangings in 1961 when Robert McGladdery who was executed for the murder of Pearl Gamble.

The first recorded escape was in 1866.

During its 150-year history the gaol had many prisoners pass through its doors. Some of the more well known prisoners included Ian Paisley Snr, Éamon de Valera, Martin McGuinness, Michael Stone and Bobby Sands.

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