[From Train's History, 1845]
" The commissioners will now proceed to examine the defects of construction and management which tended to facilitate the escape of the prisoners ; this will also embrace the other considerations connected with the second head of the report.
'° The doors of the cells for confining criminals are in many respects insufficient, some of them not being lined with iron, or having an iron plate between the planks, so as to make them impervious to fire, so easily procured by Lucifer matches, as late experience has shown-especially in the case of John Gelling, who burned the wood around the hasp irons of two of the doors by igniting the straw and boards of his bed, and by these means nearly effected his escape. Neither are the gudgeons which secure the doors to the jambs properly placed, being both in a similar position, and therefore permitting the doors to be easily raised off their hinges, whereas, if the upper one was inverted that insecurity would be obviated.
" The doors being secured by one common padlock, easily picked, offers great facility to escape. There is but one door dividing the criminals' rooms and the debtors', which is not sufficient to prevent communication and intercourse between them. By placing another door between them at the end of the thick wall, this very desirable object would be obtained.
" The cells on the first and second stories, used as sleeping rooms, and the small room in the rear thereof are not sufficiently secure. Some of them are floored with deals and have lath and plaster ceilings. The iron bars which secure the windows have, from age, become corroded and might be easily broken or cut through.
" The cells on the ground floor are, from their position and from want of ventilation, unfit for sleeping rooms, and ought only to be used as places of close confinement for refractory prisoners.
" The partition wall of the criminals' yard, which is twenty-three feet four inches high, ought to be raised two feet four inches, the same height as the rampart wall ; and on the tops of both some projecting impediments, either iron spikes or stones, should be placed.
" A systematic separation of felons to the full extent that their relative number and that of the strong room will admit, and the frequent change of rooms at uncertain periods, and without previous notice, as an efficient means of disturbing plans of escape.
" The commissioners cannot close their observations on the crown side of the jail without noticing the glaring impropriety of confining criminals who may have committed crimes of the deepest dye, with persons committed for breaking the peace, some of whom may be in a comparatively respectable walk of life, or of placing them in the same cells, and even in the same beds, with criminal lunatics, often of dangerous character. From the present construction of this division of the prison, the paucity of its accommodation, and at times the great number of criminal prisoners, this is unavoidable. It is our opinion that all the prisoners should have separate beds, and that greater attention ought to be paid to the cleanliness of the bed clothing.
" Some additional circumspection in having the room No. 2 (generally used as a day room and for cooking in) more frequently washed and cleaned, and if the walls were whitewashed more frequently, it would be conducive of beneficial results to the health and comfort of the prisoners ; and if the walls of the area or inner square of the keep, into which the windows of this room look, were whitewashed to a proper height, a great relief to the dark and gloomy appearance of this part of the jail would be effected.
" The discipline of the prison has of late years been considerably more rigorous and better observed. Ardent spirit has been totally prohibited except when ordered by the household surgeon, and then in very limited quantities. Still the jailor complains of spirit been smuggled in, principally by the wives of the prisoners, who, for want of a female turnkey, can not, consistent with delicacy, be strictly searched. The appointment of such an assistant would be producive of much good, and during the hours of the jail being closed, might be advantageously employed in washing and looking after the prison clothing. The appointment of an active and intelligent assistant turnkey is much wanted, the jailor and turnkey, who is well advanced in years, having no assistance in guarding and attending to the prisoners excepting a constable, who is, in fact, the porter of the jail, and is generally employed in bringing in food and other necessaries. This appointment has become more essentially requisite since the removal of the sentries from the jail gate and ramparts.
" The commissioners, in taking a general survey of the different divisions and appointments of the jail, are strongly impressed that, notwithstanding the great strength and perfect state as a fortress of Castle Rushen, it is not, in these days when in all civilized countries, and particularly in Great Britain, the health and, so far as may be, the comfort of prisons are so minutely attended to and provided for, calculated as a jail for debtors. These observations have been made by observing the following facts:-the immense height of the walls ranging from seventy to eighty feet, entirely excludes the rays of the sun from the surface of the area in the central court of the jail, a space of about twenty-seven feet square, which is appropriated for air and exercise to the debtors ; and these walls being all built of limestone, the atmosphere enclosed must consequently be damp and unwholesome, and is rendered still more so by being the common receptacle for the debris of the prisoners. The effects of the unwholesome air in this confined space is always very apparent in the health and complexion of those whose fate it is to respire it. To counteract this evil, the debtors are, during the day time, permitted access to the top of the castle-a boon granted sometimes by your excellency, and at other times by the interposition of the visiting magistrate, but at all times against the inclination and consent of the jailor, who complains that this indulgence endangers the safe custody of the prisoners, and the fact of two debtors having, on 25th September, 1840, effected their escape by lowering themselves from the top, fairly justifies his objection.
"The windows and ventilating apertures of the criminals' and female division of the jail are lighted by an opening from this central court, so that the whole of the prisoners, of every description, (the number of whom may be estimated as ranging from twenty-five to forty-five,) can communicate with each other, the evil and immoral consequences whereof it is needless to comment upon.
" There being at present no house for the jailor, he has to reside in the town ; although the turnkey's house is within the precincts of the castle, he cannot be aware of what may be passing in the jail during the night or during the hours of the day, when it is closed.
" The commissioners have annexed to this report particulars of the evidence taken before them, with papers referred to, and also plans of Castle Rushen.
" Signed by the commissioners as under and delivered to the governor, 10th May, 1844.
" J. J. HEYWOOD, Deemster.
J. M'HUTCHIN, Clerk of the Rolls. JOHN KELLY, High Bailiff.
JOHN QUAYLE, Member of the House of Keys." Formerly, on particular occasions, the castle of Rushen seems to have been guarded by the inhabitants. " The castle of Castletown has been, for some time past, guarded night and day by twenty men, who are relieved every twenty-four hours, by each parish in rotation, and they are summoned to it by the ancient mode of fixing a wooden cross over their door every night."-Manks Mercury, No. xii, February 12, 1793.