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Old Gaol - Second
Makhanda (Grahamstown), Eastern Cape

William Oliver JONES: Architect

Street:40 Somerset Street


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33°18'47.52" S 26°31'21.76" E

(SESA 6:235)

The original portion of this building, with its predominantly Georgian elements, was designed by WO JONES and built in 1823-1824 by AB DIETZ. The completed building was handed over to the government in April 1824 and served as a prison for about 150 years.

[Richardson Deidré, 2001. Historic Sites of South Africa. Cape Town: Struik Publishers. p, 26.]

Proclaimed a Monument by Proclamation No. 2836 dated 1985 12 27.

Concise history

The first gaol constructed for the young settlement at Grahamstown was constructed in 1813. This simple one-storeyed building in High Street very quickly proved to be too small when this tumultuous border town was chosen as administrative centre for the district of Albany by landrost H.B. Rivers in 1822.

William Oliver JONES was responsible for the design of the new structure which was constructed between 1823 and 1824. The initial structure (central block) was planned to house up to 200 prisoners. The building originally had a flat roof and the entire structure plastered with shell lime. By 1828 the roof had already decayed and the structure was roofed over with a pitched shingle roof. Beams and floors are of yellowwood. The complex grew over time to include a range of cells for different classes of criminals including separate cells for debtors, women's quarters, awaiting trial quarters, police cells and hospital and gaoler's quarters.

The gaol served its purpose until 1975 and, at the time of its de-commissioning, was the oldest functioning prison in South Africa.

Ownership of the Old Gaol was transferred from the Public Works Department to the National Monuments Council on 19 June 1985.

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

Books that reference Old Gaol - Second

Richardson, Deirdré. 2001. Historic Sites of South Africa. Cape Town: Struik Publishers. pg 26