The decaying remains of an abandoned male prison that once housed Fred West and is said to have more than 100 criminals buried in its grounds have been revealed in an urban explorer’s pictures.
HMP Gloucester was a Category B men’s prison with space for 323 inmates when it shut for good in 2013, six years after elements of the prison were described as ‘woeful’ in a government report.
It originally opened in 1792 and carried out 123 hangings, the last taking place in 1939, for a range of offences including sheep stealing, horse theft and burglary – but only one for murder.
The offenders are thought to have been buried in unmarked groves within the prison’s three and a half acres of grounds, which are situated in Gloucester city centre.
Since it shut it has been used as a Hollywood filming location, a ghost hunting spot and there are hopes its pristine chapel could be used as a wedding venue.
Incredible pictures have showed the state of decay at the sprawling prison, with mould growing and paint peeling from empty cells.
Eerie images showed decrepit corridors, a surprisingly pristine chapel and inside abandoned cells, one of which features a nude Page 3 model on a decaying wall, with her face and body ripped out.
The prison was home to serial killer Fred West after he was charged with two murders including that of his daughter in February 1994.
Fred West killed at least 12 people with his wife Rosemary between 1967 and 1987.
The murderer resided at HMP Gloucester in 1994 following his arrest, and was later transferred to Winson Green Prison in Birmingham, UK, where he hung himself just a year later.
The unsettling images were captured by an anonymous British urban explorer known only as Punkitect, who used a Canon EOS 6D with a 16-35mm lens.
‘The atmosphere felt cold, and sad, but not hostile. It was knowing that this tiny cell had housed the worst of society every single night for hundreds of years that made it all the more chilling,’ said Punkitect.
‘I’ve spent my life chasing dark tourism, treading where some of the evilest minds of humanity have trodden.
‘As horrible as the prison environment was, it was still too good for someone who committed the acts that he [Fred West] did.
‘There is a shift to moving prisons more towards the countryside, but the age of this jail has meant that Gloucester has grown up around it.
‘Being sat in a cell and hearing people commute to work and the faint buzz of people relaxing in the bars and cafes at the docks only emphasises the feeling of having one’s freedom taken away.
‘The building has been a part of the city’s history for centuries, a landmark that everyone is aware of, but very few have seen inside.
‘I think it is fantastic that [before the pandemic] the building was being used to host events.’
The prison was opened up for tours in 2017 and 2018, but has since been used for a host of activities.
Its history has made it a prime spot for ghost tours, while it has also been made available for filming.
According to www.gloucester-prison.co.uk, the abandoned jail has featured in Hollywood films, including The Informer, starring Clive Owen and Rosamund Pike, which was released last year.
The prison chapel has been used as a music venue, with a statement on gloucester-prison.co.uk reading: ‘We are hoping that someone who wants a unique day will ask about hiring it for their wedding.’
It has also been used for filming documentaries, TV series and music videos.
Members of the public are also able to take part in a ‘real time zombie experience,’ and Airsoft games, but is has also been used as a venue for film screenings, conferences and fashion walks.