Summer Outings – Pentridge Prison Ghost Tours

This is not your normal Summer Family Outing and it’s been a little while since we did one, but we love a good Ghost Tour, in fact I don’t think I have ever written a post about one. We did one of Melbourne CDB, which was mostly a walking history tour of the early days with some dismemberment thrown in, the whole Underbelly and Squizzy Taylor Days.We also did another of Beechworth Gaol and Mayday Hills Lunatic Asylum (I am doing it again in September too). That was in a derelict mansion with screeching possums.Lots of fun.Anyway, with a group of friends (6 in total) we recently did a tour of the now closed HM Pentridge Prison, Coburg, Victoria.

History

wp-1456666654700.jpgHM Prison Pentridge was a prison built in 1850 in Coburg, Victoria. The first prisoners arrived in 1851. The original structure was made from wood, yep, that will keep criminals nicely locked away. Apparently fire, or even simply kicking down the door had not occurred to those in authority at the time. So a large Bluestone building was built.According to our Lantern Ghost Tour Guide, Ross, the first prisoners were women and they were all in one large dormitory style accommodation, apparently they thought THAT would be a GOOD IDEA at the time too………didn’t last long, and ended in a Coronial Inquiry into Gross Sexual Deviancy!

Pentridge Prison was often known by the nickname “The Bluestone College”, “Coburg College” or the “College of Knowledge”, as young criminals came out better prepared for a more profitable criminal career, than when they came in, learning from those on the inside what NOT to do to get caught.

The prison was split into many divisions, named using letters of the alphabet.

  • A – Short and long-term prisoners of good behaviour but during the late 1980s till its closure it became a scene of many monthly bashings, stabbings and bludgeonings.
  • B – Long-term prisoners with behaviour problems
  • C – Vagabonds and short term prisoners, where Ned Kelly was imprisoned (Demolished early 1970s)
  • D – Remand prisoners
  • E – A dormitory division housing short term prisoners
  • F – Remand and short-term
  • G – Psychiatric problems
  • H – High security, discipline and protection
  • J – Young Offenders Group- Later for long-term with record of good behaviour
  • Jika Jika – maximum security risk and for protection, later renamed K Division

We went into D Division, where the last prisoners executed in Australia (man and woman), were housed.Ronald Ryan was the last man executed at Pentridge Prison and in Australia. Ryan was hanged in “D” Division at 8.00 on 3 February 1967 after being convicted of the shooting death of a prison officer during a botched escape from the same prison. Later that day, Ryan’s body was buried in an unmarked grave within the “D” Division prison facility. The last person, a woman to be hanged was 16 years prior to this.D Division saw the likes of Peter Dupas, Mark ‘Chopper’ Reid, Squizzy Taylor, Julian Knight, and Christopher Dale Flannery amongst many, many others.

The prison officially closed on 1 May 1997. Since decommissioning, the prison has been partly demolished to make way for a housing development. We heard many stories of murder, intrigue and strange sightings, from within the prison walls, it was eerily dark and we were kept to a fairly confined area. Once the tour completed we were free to roam the halls of D Division for 20 minutes for photos etc.It was all really spooky and a lot of fun………..sadly no ghosts or strange goings on. Oh and the Pentagram on the cell floor? Apparently an inmate or two was into the dark arts, Eddie Leonski.

Anyway if you have never done a Lantern Ghost tour, check them out, I am sure someone will be doing one near you!

-Julz