Building or heritage site
The building that Northampton Museum and Art Gallery occupies was initially constructed in 1846 as a red brick L-shaped Victorian addition to the County Gaol. The Victorian gaol block comprised of rows of cells divided by iron bars along the walls. The cells were separated by a central corridor with galleried walkways connected by spiral stairs. On the first floor at the north of the building there were larger rooms that may have served as storerooms and gaolers’ rooms. At the north end of the basement floor were the condemned cells, where inmates were held prior to being hung. Hangings first took place at the gaol in 1819 on Angel Lane behind the Georgian Block. They moved there from Northampton Racecourse due to concerns about the size of the crowds gathering to view the hangings. The hanging area was known as the ‘New Drop’ and twenty people were hanged here over a period of almost 40 years. In 1852 the last public hanging at Northampton took place when Elizabeth Pinkard was executed for murdering her mother-in-law. In 1879 Gaol Commissioners deemed the site unfit in accordance with health and hygiene standards of the day and in 1880, the gaol closed.
The Old Police Cells Museum preserves 13 original cells in the basement of Brighton Town Hall and also has a collection (c.1830-) of uniforms, memorabilia, evidence materials, communication and police equipment. The police station was condemned as unfit for use in 1929 but continued in use up 1967, just before the amalgamation of five separate forces; East Sussex, West Sussex, Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings, into Sussex Constabulary in 1968. The force was rebranded as Sussex Police in 1974.
The Thames Police Museum has existed in its present form since 1974 and is run under the auspices of the Thames Police Association. It is a small but very popular collection that records the history of policing on the River Thames from 1798 to the present