‘..For the sake of visiting localities of greater interest, we..turn aside from Gray’s Inn Road and enter Coldbath Fields … once famous for a cold spring that still exists in Bath Street..’. (I think that the spring is now enclosed in a sewer, or underground conduit because I can’t find any information about it.)
‘..Here is the Middlesex House of Correction, opened in 1794. There are 530 cells, and the average number of prisoners daily within the walls .. is 1,000. [i.e. 2 to a cell] Workshops on a large scale have been recently added, to furnish employment to the prisoners..’. The prison (picture below) was built on Mount Pleasant (now the site of the Post Office) and closed in 1877.
Both men and women were kept in the prison until 1850 and although it aspired to be humane it apparently was known for its regime of silence and the treadmill – prisoners could be on the treadmill for up to six hours!
In Devizes Prison the treadmill ground corn for flour to make the prisoners’ bread, with the excess sold to maintain the prison. Hard labour in prison was only finally abolished in 1948.
Mount Pleasant Road, just down the hill from the prison, was previously Dorrington Street,built in 1720 and it was famous for its pub, The Apple Tree, which is still there, although rebuilt in 1872.
‘..Walter Harrison, writing in 1775, found the streets around Coldbath Square ‘chiefly inhabited by tradesmen’, and this seems to have been the case ever since the houses were first occupied,..’, according to this source. And the same source offers the fact that the area was, towards the end of the 19C, occupied by Italian immigrants who made and sold icecream!