PETERHEAD Prison - the notorious jail once dubbed “The Hate Factory” - finally closed its doors today without fanfare or ceremony.
Its closure, to pave the way for the new “super jail” in the Buchan town, will mark the end of one of the most turbulent eras in the history of Scotland’s prison system.
Originally built in 1888 to house the convicts who constructed the fishing port’s breakwater, Peterhead has incarcerated some of Scotland’s most infamous inmates, including Glasgow gangsters Jimmy Boyle and Arthur Thompson, serial killer Peter Tobin, and “Limbs in the Loch” murderer Williams Beggs.
And it also held - between his legendary escapes - one of the most colourful figures in Scotland’s penal history - “Gentle” Johnny Ramensky, the safe breaker and war hero who became a cult celebrity after escaping from the gaol a record five times - first in 1934, then again in 1952 and three times in 1958.
The prison, which later earned international accolades after being turned into the the main jail for Scotland’s sex offenders, last hit the headlines in 1987 when the SAS was brought in to end a dramatic siege in which veteran prison officer Jackie Stuart was held hostage for five days.
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Prison Service said: “There will be no ceremony to mark the closure today. There will be a flag-lowering ceremony on 23 December which will mark the formal closure of the site.
“The last of the prisoners left the prison last week. There will be no operational staff at the prison after today and only estate staff will be left.”
The prison is to be decommissioned before work starts within the next few weeks to completely demolish the jail.
Aberdeen’s Craiginches Prison is also due to close next month as part of the plan to transfer prisoners from the North east to the new HMP Peterhead in March. The new £140 million jail will be the first custom built community facing prison in Scotland.