Your Ghost Hunt at Ashwell Prison
Ashwell Prison is a vast sprawling location and as night falls the chilling isolation of this foreboding prison becomes even more evident. Past nights here have given the Haunted Happenings Team and guests some harrowing experiences with cell doors being opened by unseen hands, shadowed figure watching from the upper balcony wings. Objects were witnessed to be across the floor. A stark reminder of life inside Ashwell Prison is evident in the graffiti in the solitary isolation wing and cells of past inmates.
Locked behind towering secure fences a real sense of life inside this daunting complex is a real challenge for even the most experienced ghost hunters.
Ghosts of Ashwell Prison
Ashwell Prison in Oakwell is an abandoned prison built on the site of a WW2 American air base. This sprawling secure prison has had numerous reports of unexplained activity told to Haunted Happenings by staff who once worked within the walls of HMP Ashwell.
Voices are heard to call from the now abandoned cells, footsteps can be heard to pace the upper landings numerous accounts of dark shadows being seen along with objects being moved by unseen hands.
Join the team for an overnight ghost hunt locked inside former HMP Ashwell in Haunted Leicestershire.
History of Ashwell Prison
In February, 1944 the US 82nd Airborne Division set up base at Ashwell. The riggers of the 82nd Parachute Maintenance Company immediately got to work. Their job was to pack and repair parachutes for training at the ‘jump school’. The 505, 507, 508 and the parachute infantry regiments trained at the nearby airfield in preparation for the Normandy jump.
In 1955 Ashwell Prison opened, originally as an open prison for men. In 1987 it was converted into a secure Category C adult male prison. Ashwell Prison featured in the news in 2003 as inmates rioted causing thousands of pounds worth of damage as they barricaded themselves into one of the wings and began destroying the contents, eventually control was regained and order restored. The offenders were transferred from HMP Ashwell.
Ashwell Prison was constructed on the site of a World War II US army base (home to part of the 82nd Airborne Division), and first opened in 1955 as an open prison for adult male prisoners. In October 1987 it was converted to an Adult Male Category C establishment. In 2003 Ashwell Prison hit the headlines after four prisoners went on a wrecking spree, damaging £10,000 worth of office equipment, computers and windows. The trouble started when an officer found an inmate had been drinking alcohol in his cell. Despite this incident Ashwell achieved Resettlement Stage 1 accreditation in the same year.
A major riot at Ashwell Prison began on 11 April 2009. During the riot, a three-mile police perimeter was put in place, which extended to the edges of Oakham. Several prisoners were evacuated from the prison. Trouble started on Saturday 11 April at approximately 0100 BST and a fire broke out at the prison during the afternoon. The riot was successfully brought under control at 2245 BST that day. The operation launched by authorities in response to the riot was called Operation Tornado. which saw the introduction of specialist riot trained prison staff. Three prisoners were injured and 75 per cent of the prison was made uninhabitable. The riot started when a prisoner, serving a three-year sentence, confronted staff and refused to return to his room. He began to cause damage and was joined by others. The unrest spread quickly throughout the prison and approximately 400 prisoners are thought to have participated. No member of staff was injured or directly attacked.
The damage done to three of the old wings was substantial. The rest of the prison was either undamaged or sustained superficial damage. The event provoked questioning of the UK’s overcrowded prison system leading to Category B prisoners’ downgrading so that they can be moved to Category C prisons. In January 2011, it was announced that Ashwell Prison was to close, as the cost of repairing and maintaining the building was too high. The prison formally closed at the end of March 2011, when all inmates were transferred to other prisons.
This prison has been a source of interest for quite a few months in the ghost hunting world because of the paranormal evidence captured here. The main area of activity is the isolation block where the apparition of a man has been seen along with footsteps and whispers. The sound of a woman’s voice has been heard in one of the cells which is strange as women were not imprisoned there.
Ashwell Prison is a vast location which has a strange and eerie feel to it. You almost get a sense of those imprisoned here by the way that the prison is sectioned, housing some of society’s most dangerous criminals. Their despair is evident by the graffiti that you see written on the walls of the cells in each segregation block and we should always bear in mind that some of the prisoners that were incarcerated here are still alive as are the relatives of some of those that have since died. Obviously we will work with respect and dignity for all those that have been connected with Ashwell Prison.
In January 2013, Rutland County Council announced that it had finalised a deal to buy the former prison from the Ministry of Justice in order to convert the site into a business park. The site was redeveloped throughout 2013, with some accommodation blocks damaged during the riots demolished and new units built in their place. Oakham Enterprise Park has now opened with units converted for business use.
A 2005 inspection report of Ashwell cited concerns about prisoners’ vulnerability, race relations and the quality of work and training at the prison. In the same year an inmate at the prison escaped from guards while receiving treatment for tuberculosis at the Leicester Royal Infirmary. The prisoner was recaptured days later. In July 2008 a new £6m wing with an additional 64 cells was opened at Ashwell Prison. The new wing increased the overall capacity of the prison to 619 inmates.
- Ghost hunting vigils and séances in small groups
- Workshop/separate vigils for returning guests
- Experiments including glass divination, table tipping and Ouija Boards
- Use of ghost hunting equipment including EMF Meters, K2 Meters etc
- Refreshments and light snacks included such as teas and coffees
- Not suitable for people with mobility issues or walking difficulties
- Parking is on site and free