Gateway to prison’s history this summer

Visitors will get a chance to see firs-hand what life behind bars in the Blue Toon was like... without doing porridge
Visitors will get a chance to see firs-hand what life behind bars in the Blue Toon was like... without doing porridge

HMP Peterhead is set to be transformed into a heritage centre where visitors can learn the story of the historic prison.

Admiralty Gateway is entering ‘phase two’ of its operation, with work now being undertaken to create a heritage centre within the complex that could attract significant interest in the area.

The organisers are say it will ‘safeguard the past for future generations to enjoy and learn from’.

Visitors will get the opportunity to get an inside glimpse into the jail, which opened in August 1888 and housed some of the country’s most notorious criminals and the tour will honour the guards that worked there over the generations.

It closed as a prison in 2013 and was replaced by the superjail, HMP Grampian in the Blue Toon.

Set to open in summer this year, the site will include a visitor centre, guided tours, historical photos, artefacts and original census (which included all staff at the time and original convict prisoner names). It will also provide a cafe within part of the former hospital overlooking Peterhead Bay.

Work is also being done to restore RNLI Julia Park Bay of Glasgow lifeboat, which served in Peterhead from 1939-69 and saved 496 lives during its service.

The lifeboat’s refurbishment will still be ongoing following the opening this summer, but will be part of the tour as soon as possible and initial visitors will be able to see work happening as they pass.

Facilities development coordinator Alex Geddes said some former guards at the prison have lodged interest in becoming tour guides, offering unparalleled knowledge.

He added: “From a personal perspective this is a dream come true to be part of a development such as this.

“To be part of the team and witness this complex evolve and potentially become a huge tourist attraction is a great honour.”