Historic prison unlocks its secrets for all to see - The Solihull Observer

Historic prison unlocks its secrets for all to see

Solihull Editorial 14th Apr, 2022   0

A VICTORIAN prison with cells that were occupied by the Peaky Blinders in years gone by has opened its doors as a museum.

The lock-up in Steelhouse Lane, Birmingham, was built in 1891 and housed more than one million prisoners before the cell doors closed for the final time in 2016.

However, thanks to a £1-million grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, it’s re-opened as the West Midlands Police Museum and promises to take visitors on a unique journey through more than 200 years of policing history.

The museum has an array of hands-on activities where people can play the role of detective at a crime scene, examine evidence in a forensics lab, take your own police ‘mugshot’ and dress up in police uniform from years gone by.

And for younger visitors there is a trail where children can follow the Lock-Up Mouse through the displays and collect a cuddly toy from the museum shop.

Chief Constable Sir David Thompson said: “It will give people a chance to learn more about their local police force today, as well as learning all about its history. That is essential for us when we consider the good and bad from our history; from pioneering female, black and Asian officers, to lessons learned when we haven’t quite got it right.

“The objects on display are not just obsolete pieces of kit and collections of old pictures and records. Each tells a poignant story. They demonstrate struggles of those who’ve gone before us and shine a light on the social history of policing.

“The museum will give us a chance to build bridges with communities through our shared history, and educate people on how policing has developed. It will be an important education resource for young people in the West Midlands and beyond.

“The museum also remembers those who have gone before us, particularly those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. That is really important.”

The museum is spread across three floors with many of the Victorian features preserved including the old cells, metal walkways and central metal spiral staircase.

There are cells dedicated to the real Peaky Blinders gang, the Victorian era and World War Two as well as a Tardis-like police box, a life-size police horse and motorbikes.

The museum is open six days a week and pre-booking tickets is recommended.

For more or to book tickets click here or call 0121 609 1700.

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