Exploring Inside Abandoned Prison HMP Camp Hill – Isle of Wight

Exploring Inside Abandoned Prison HMP Camp Hill – Isle of Wight


Camp Hill prison is located on the
outskirts of Newport on the Isle of Wight The former category C prison had
the capacity to hold over 500 inmates and has remained vacant held in reserve
capacity by the Ministry of Justice since shutting back in 2013. Earlier this
year I uploaded a couple of videos of some of the other noteworthy buildings
of the prison estate; Holly Grange and The Firs, as interesting as both these
sites are they kind of pale when compared to the huge empty prison just
across the road. Filmed over several undetected visits this ambitious
explore takes a look inside of this well guarded and huge 16 acre site for
the first time since closing. Getting into a secured over 100 year old
prison was always going to be a challenge, the site has been on total
lockdown since it closed back in 2013, this meant that every gate had been
securely locked and every fence looked solid, high and covered in razor wire. If
the physical barriers were not deterrent enough there was also the danger of CCTV
and a 24-hour security presence. This consisted of at least two security
guards at all time one on the outside and one somewhere on the inside… There
was a good reason why no one had been stupid enough to try and get back inside We spent several months trying to figure
out the best way in, many late evenings were spent out in the rain and snow
searching for possible points of entry. This consisted of rattling gates testing
the CCTV and even staking out the security guards, we spent hours
researching the prison online speaking to former guards and putting together
plans of the site. All of our efforts led us to the conclusion that there was only
going to be one way in, we were going to have to climb over the fence. The fence that we were looking at was approximately 6 meters high and topped
off with a double stack of razor wire, it was made of a heavy-duty mesh so it’s
likely to support our weight, however, the gaps were less than half a
centimeter wide, this meant that it would be impossible to climb unaided, it was also not going to be possible to tie into anything but the very top. The first one
up was gonna have to do so somehow as a free climb, fortunately one of us is an
experienced climber and they devised a crazy way of getting up the fence using
hiking crampons and ice axes. The fence was extremely intimidating and
although a fall would be unlikely to kill you it would’ve resulted in a
really nasty injury potentially mangled up and razor wire. We went up and over
without any problems and we were now standing literally locked up inside of
the prison. It was an amazing feeling knowing that we finally cracked
something the only a few hours before had felt impenetrable and at this
point it would have been easy to get carried away with the buzz of adrenaline
and run off around the site exploring. For all the effort it had taken so far we
didn’t want to blow it by getting caught and we also didn’t want this to be a one
and done trip, there was more work that we had to do before the exploring could
commence. Firstly we had to conceal the entrance, as ropes hung up on the fence
would have been very obvious to anyone passing or to a night patrol.
Once the ropes are taken care of we then had to carefully scout out the inside of
the facility without alerting a guard potentially lurking somewhere inside,
this resulted in several hours of carefully creeping around the shadows
trying to identify safe passageways through the site. It was a really
nerve-racking couple of hours as the prison’s incredibly noisy; doors would
sway and slamming the wind, lights would flicker randomly coming on or off without
warning and the sound of faulty cell alarms echoed out across the entire site. This
all built a constant paranoia that we were being watched from somewhere and
that at any moment we were about to get caught. Luckily our vigilance and
planning paid off as we managed to get in and out without any issue, or drawing
any attention to our late-night visit. Now with the plan of how to get in the
next couple of weeks were spend regularly visiting and carefully
exploring the site, surprisingly it didn’t take long to find open doors, all
of the original prison locks had been removed, assumedly when the site closed
as a security measure and all that remained were a few cheap padlocks, which
over the years have gone rusty and many of these have been left open as they
were just too corroded too close. We quickly worked out that the CCTV was
either not being actively monitored or was just not on, this was quite unexpected
especially considering that the annual cost to maintain and secure the site is
almost a quarter of a million pounds of taxpayers money. HMP Camp Hill was formally opened in March of 1912 by Winston Churchill. The site was built
using prison labor from the neighboring prison Parkhurst and work started to
construct the new preventative detention prison between 1909 and 1910. Camp Hill was
designed to provide a different type of prison with the aim to reform habitual
criminals, the cell blocks were much smaller and less institutional in their
appearance when compared to conventional prisons at the time, initially six cell
blocks of 50 were built around a central open gardened area. Camp Hill continue to
hold preventative detainees until 1935 where it became a borstal for young
offenders, it switched back to holding convicts during World War two and then
returned to being a borstal in 1946 During the 1950’s it briefly held
corrective trainees before being transitioned to a Category C prison.
During the 1970s the area of the prison was nearly doubled the expanded area
housed a couple of new wings which were opened on the 1st of July in 1976 and a
series of workshops. Throughout the years the prison offered many educational and
training programs for inmates and these included electronic repairs
construction industry textiles as well as the ability to work on a working farm.
In 2008 it was announced that Camp Hill would be merged with the other two
Island prisons Parkhurst & Albany to form HMP Isle of Wight. HMP Isle of Wight
was officially launched on the 1st of April 2009 with the three prisons being
combined into one category B jail with the capacity to hold around 1,700
inmates After its merger with the other two
prisons Camp Hill was criticised as having relatively high levels of illicit drugs
and after being operational for over a hundred and one years it was announced
in January of 2013 the Camp Hill would be closing its doors as part of a national
cost-cutting measure, during the following months the 467 serving
prisoners were transferred to 15 other prison sites and on the 8th of March
2013 the last prisoner to serve a sentence was escorted and released
off-site by the governor, at which point he asked if he could turn out the lights.
Every building was then stripped and cleaned with items being redistributed
refurbished or stored for possible future use. The official closing ceremony
took place on the 19th of April and ended with officers and other staff
marching up the prison one last time. After multiple visits we had manage to
see most of what the huge site had to offer, all under the cover of darkness, I
really wanted to capture some daytime footage inside the prison as many of the
buildings were far too exposed to risk turning lights on or using torches. Being
inside during the day was going to be difficult, our multiple visits had
already identified that whilst the guards didn’t appear to do very much at
night the site was actively patrolled during the daytime inside and out, in
addition to this the outside of the prison was surrounded by fields and this
made the outer perimeter path a popular dog-walking spot. Climbing over a 6m high fence during the day would have been a terrible idea with pretty
much zero chance of getting in and out undetected. The only realistic way of
being able to be inside in daylight would be to spend the night and get out
early next morning. We picked a cellblock and hung our hammocks up for the night,
we picked the block closest to the main gate as the guards had already left some
of the lights on inside and if the main gate was opened at any point we’d be
able to hear it. We were up early the next morning before
first light so that we can get around and see as much as possible before
making a swift exit. The site is still currently owned by the Ministry of
Justice and is still technically retained in reserve capacity, this means
that potentially it could be bought back into service if there was a large
increase in the prison population, although, as the government is actively
trying to find buyers for the site it seems quite unlikely that it will ever
reopen as detention facility. Over the years there’s been much talk of
the prison being redeveloped for a number of projects; these include housing
and a potential relocation of the Isle of Wight council headquarters.
Structurally the facility seems to be in a good condition needing only a few
cosmetic touch-ups. Just before I finalised this video the prison’s
Minister expressed an interest to offer Camp Hill to the IOW Council, at point
of making this video no decision had been made about the location. Shortly
after we finished visiting the prison we were tipped off that the old admin
building that once belonged to the farm was accessible. There’s almost no trace
of the working prison farm and from the outside the admin building looked
relatively unassuming, however, once inside we found that the building was
being used to store stacks of old documents from Camp Hill. There were
filing cabinets and boxes filled with old records We found boxes of old Ordnance maps of
all three prisoner states and there were even some signs from the old prison After having spent several days inside
of a cleared out prison it was really fascinating to be able to spend a few
hours looking through as many of the records as we could as these gave much
more of an insight into daily inmate activity This was a great explore, it was a bit
nerve-wracking at times but it was well worth all of the planning. It is amazing
that we managed to get around and see most things without getting detected, I
really hoped that the release of this video doesn’t negatively impact any of
the security guards working on the prison, after all who would be stupid
enough to try and bust into a prison? Often when something significant is
explored I’m asked if there’s anything left to see on the Island,
there is and I still have plenty of videos held back waiting for the right
time to upload hopefully one day soon I’ll be able to share some of these with
you.

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About the Author: Sam Caldwell

76 Comments

  1. Amazing how much is abandoned on such a small island, i hope to visit next summer as i have great memories of childhood holidays there.

  2. Ridiculously well planned, executed and documented mate. Another one ticked off, looking forward to whatever you can get out next.

  3. Do you know what, this is amazing.
    My dad works in purkhurst every day he is a workshop manager for waste management in both of the prisons and regularly goes over to camp hill to do checks around.
    without keys, name badges and work uniform it's nearly impossible, so you done an amazing job.
    It does have plans to re open, but not for the next few years, and after it Is re furbed and when the council have the money to actually do it.
    It's an amazing prison, and from what my dad has said, a lot better than Albany and purkhurst.
    This is an amazing video…

  4. good job for pulling this off, but does this even count as abandoned,, i worry youre going to get in real trouble for it!

  5. as long as you caused no damage, the video may be viewed as a positive experience.
    sometimes, all you have to do is ask the right people for access, and you might even get a private tour! I was able to experience the steeples of some churches with the caretakers showing the sights and telling me many interesting stories! too bad we didn't have the video equipment available today…

  6. Is there many cool places you haven't been in Ventnor? I live there and wanna know more about my small town 😊 great video!

  7. Good to
    See the old place. I spent 6 years working there on the 90’s. Great place to work. Great team to work with.

  8. Great mooching my friend, it ain't often you get to see in and around a prison especially on the island , πŸ‘well done, , , i have two signs from Camphill prison screwed on my shed door that i required from my local recycling centre not long after the prison closed it's doors , a little bit of history I've saved from the scrapyard πŸ‘, , , , and anyway how you gonna TOP this video, , , ,looking forward to the next one, .

  9. Also the site CCTV obviously wouldn't be on as it would be a 24/7 team of atleast 2-3 people to monitor it all (used to work in Albany as an OSG)

  10. Thank you for sharing this! I live on the Island and have all my life I've always wondered what it actually looked like inside! Good job hope to see more videos soon

  11. I was serving a sentence at Camphill when it was shut down there were a lot of scores being settled over the last few months never thought I'd see the inside of that place again.

  12. What you've done there is create probably one of the best urban exploration videos to date. This is the best standard video created to date.

  13. Hey I heard your next video is a building on Londsale Avenue and I live there I would love to know when your doing it and I could be in your video

  14. I was there for 4 months. I also worked in Segregation. It was very well kept when it was active. Much cleaner than any other jail. I often wondered how I could climb them fences! lol

  15. excellent video and so much ground in there, the back ground music at times meant you couldnt hear you talking maybe cut that out as what you say is very interesting

  16. Hey mate, you took longer to get in camphill than it did for me to escape back in 1979. I made it out of the jail and off the island.

  17. You do realise this video is what we call in the game a β€œself snitch” right? You’re going to get in to trouble for this! πŸ˜”

  18. Wow your attually a legend!!!my dad was in prison there whn i was younger good effort well impressed haha xx

  19. Hey Mate explore the old carisbrooke highschool! its getting knocked down this year but there is still so much more left, including a underground bit in the west hall, entrance is easy as vandals have smashed some windows and i have explored it myself and its great fun

  20. What I don't get is that both David Cameron and Tereasa May both said that they needed 3 or 4 new prisons by 2030 yet they close places like this (Sos about the spelling I am dyslexic!)

  21. Fascinating. I've been in Camphill and Parkhurst but only as a visitor many years ago. Makes you wonder what that Tax payer's money really goes on, as only a small amount would need to cover x2 Security guards during the day.

  22. Fascinating. I’m a fan of Dan Bell which started my interest in these sorts of films. Well done! Cindy from Florida

  23. Mate, I used to do static security (still do sometimes) all the time. We really don't care if anyone comes on a site, haha. If you got caught, the only thing that'd happen is they'd just kick you out. It's not worth the risk (and time) for a lone worker to detain someone until the police take half a year to arrive and probably do your job.

    But anyway, this is really cool! There's a site I used to work on that may be of interest to you in East Cowes, give me a shout if you wanna know about it.

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