No. 1100: Cable Street, E1
Cable Street, London, E1. Photo ©RogerDean 2014
The Great Metropolis, Second Series, In Two Volumes. Vol. II. – James Grant, 1838:
The most painfully interesting part of Newgate to a stranger who visits it, is that in which the places, technically called the condemned cells, are situated. These cells are appropriated for the reception of those who are under sentence of death. Of these cells there are three tiers, and in each tier there are five cells, making the entire number of these gloomy abodes fifteen.
They are situated on the north side of the prison, and adjoining the house of the Ordinary, abutting Newgate-street. When a prisoner is convicted of a capital offence he is removed to this part of Newgate, there to remain until the Recorder has made his report to his Majesty. In case of a commutation of sentence, the prisoners are transferred to the transport-yard, preparatory to their removal to the hulks. Those, on the other hand, against whom the fatal sentence is to be carried into execution, are suffered to remain until that moment arrives. In the day-time the prisoners are allowed to congregate together in a large apartment called the day-room; but at night each is shut up in his own cell. The condemned cells are all situated on the first and second floors. Connected, as already stated, with these cells, are two large rooms called day-rooms; one on the ground floor opening into the press-yard, and the other immediately above it. The lower is used by capital convicts; while the upper room is reserved for devotional and sacramental purposes. The condemned cells measure nine feet by seven feet; each of them has a small window guarded with iron stanchions. The windows have severally a sliding shutter to admit light and air, should the prisoner wish it. They are near the ceiling, but do not show more light than is barely sufficient to enable the prisoner to read or write. The great majority of the unhappy inmates are without education, and of uncultivated habits. They have no means of profitably employing their leisure hours, and consequently chiefly spend their time in the use of the coarsest possible language, and in condemning the laws which have condemned them. There are, however, to this as to every other rule, some exceptions. The walls of each cell being whitewashed every two years, and the prisoners being allowed the use of pencils, some of them give expression to their feelings and sentiments in their peculiar situation, by writing them on the walls.