Beaumaris Gaol was built in 1829 and expanded upon in 1867. During the height of its occupation, it could hold 30 inmates, but due to its brutal reputation and improvements to the prison system, the jail was closed 11 years later.
Shortly after closing, the building became the local police station until the 1950’s when it was opened as a children’s clinic, an obviously odd choice for such a structure. It remained in use until 1974 when it reopened as the museum you see today.
The treatment of inmates was considerably inhumane compared to today’s treatment. Prisoners were chained, whipped, made to break rocks, and spend days in dark isolation cells. The gaol was also one of the last working penal treadmills in Britain.
Inmates were forced to walk up steps that were set into two cast iron wheels, which drove a shaft that helped pump water throughout the prison. They would walk all day long, and any unfortunate soul that couldn’t remain standing was severely punished.
There were several inmates condemned to death at the jail, but only two were on record as being hung there. One of those was William Griffith, in 1830, for the attempted murder of his ex-wife.
He refused to accept his sentence, and upon the morning of his execution, barricaded himself in his cell. After a long struggle, the door was finally forced open, and he was chained up and dragged to the gallows, where he meant his end.
The second known hanging was that of Richard Rowlands, in 1862. He was sentenced to death for the killing of his father-in-law, however, he pleaded his innocence right until the end.
Legend has it he put a curse on the nearby church clock from the gallows right before he was let loose. He foretold that as he was innocent, the four faces of the church clock will never show the correct time. To this day they never have!
Both of these men are buried within the walls of the gaol, but the exact location is a mystery.