Site History

Holloway Prison has a long and important history stretching back to the 1850s/ Both in terms of the people it held and of its buildings and how prisons evolved in Britain.

After opening in 1852 as a mixed-gender prison, Holloway Prison later became a female-only prison in August 1902 due to a growing demand for space for female prisoners. As a result, the Prison’s male inmates were moved to Pentonville, Wormwood Scrubs and Brixton prisons.

1985 – 2016

The Prison held a number of notable inmates during this period, from Duchesses to fascists and spies. The suffragettes were also imprisoned on the site, many committing to hunger strikes as they continued their campaigning from within the Prison walls.​

By the 1960s, the world was changing, and the focus shifted to prisoners’ mental health. The prion was knocked down and rebuilt between 1970 and 1985, the new building intended to be a place of healing, more hospital than prison.

The new prison reflected a desire to move away from the Victorian justice system. It was designed to feel different to a traditional prison, with accommodation grouped around several attractive green spaces, and cells along corridors rather than wings to provide greater privacy. The new building also included classrooms, a swimming pool and a sports hall. The aim was to provide better facilities for the treatment of women in prison.

Despite the good intentions for the new design, the building proved to be difficult to manage. The last inspection of the prison concluded that the “the size and poor design make it a very difficult establishment to run”. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, announced in his Autumn Statement on 25 November 2015 that the prison would close and would be sold for housing. Holloway Prison closed in July 2016, and the prisoners were moved to HMP Downview and HMP Bronzefield, both in Surrey.

The sale of the Holloway Prison site by the Ministry of Justice formed part of a wider programme of prison reform – the Prison Estate Transformation Programme which was targeted at modernising prison estates and supporting rehabilitation services.

Historic Image of Holloway Prison.

2017 – now

Working with the local community, Peabody and London Square developed plans for the redevelopment of the former Prison site into a thriving, residential development to provide new homes and spaces for Islington residents. These plans were approved by Islington Council in 2022 and we are now making great progress delivering on these plans.

You can read more about what Holloway Park will deliver in ‘The Plans’ below.

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Disclaimer: Imagery included on this website are for illustrative purposes only and will be updated as the development progresses.