Local BBC Sites

Page last updated at 12:12 GMT, Tuesday, 16 March 2010
Ghostly tales from the old prison in the Isle of Man
Prison gate
Prisoners were moved to a new purpose built prison in Jurby in 2008

Victoria Road Prison in the Isle of Man opened in 1891 and has been housing criminals for over a century.

Inevitably this old, red brick Victorian building in Douglas has inspired numerous ghost stories.

Strange, unexplainable incidents are said to have occurred regularly in three different areas of the prison.

They were witnessed by the prisoners and staff and now as the building closes for business, these tales are finally being told.

Norman Douglas Quilliam is a retired Prison Officer. He worked at Victoria Road from 1967 until 1986.

"There were three cells in this prison which were extremely haunted and I speak from personal experience.

Prison cell
This cell at the former prison was reputed to be haunted

"One night when I was sleeping in the Officer's room upstairs, I had the bed clothes pulled off me by, what I can only describe as, an entity. So I can say with conviction that the haunted stories from Victoria Road were true.

"In number four cell, prisoners were so scared they would put bibles under their beds and they wouldn't touch the walls at all. Some of them were frightened, extremely frightened".

In 2001 a HM Inspectorate Prison report concluded that Victoria Road Prison was not fulfilling obligations under international human rights law.

Prisoners were still expected to slop out and eat meals in the cells alongside their sanitary buckets.

Mr Quilliam said that in the old days the prison was overcrowded and there were sometimes three people in each cell.

In number four cell, prisoners were so scared that they would put bibles under their beds
Norman Douglas Quilliam

"In the summer the heat could be stifling and we had to have the windows adjusted to let more air into the rooms".

In 1973 James Richard Lunney was convicted of the Golden Egg murder in Douglas, and became the last man in the British Isles to be sentenced to death.

He remained on death row at Victoria Road for a few weeks but his sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment.

Mr Quilliam said, he was held in cell number 13 which was later to become known as the condemned man's cell.

Prisoner graffiti at the former Isle of Man prison

"There were ghostly entities in there and I can't explain anymore than that.

"Cell number three was also haunted. Very weird noises and banging came from that room specifically from the ceiling. People did not like to go in there.

"They say the dead won't harm you; it's only the living which harms you. That's what I tried to remember when I was working here".

Prisoners were moved out of Victoria Road Prison in 2008 to a new purpose built prison in Jurby. The Isle of Man Government remains undecided about the future of the former prison building at Victoria Road.

Prison contents go up for auction
01 Mar 10 |  People & Places
Brian Keenan: A faith of one's own
07 Jan 10 |  Religion & Ethics
The Summerland building disaster
16 Nov 09 |  History
The story behind the P50 microcar
16 Nov 09 |  History
The sinking of the Ellan Vannin
03 Dec 09 |  History
The TT Goddess of the gas pedals
16 Nov 09 |  History



Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific