Nostalgia: Life in Edinburgh’s jails

LIFE inside a jail cell is never easy, but for prisoners at HMP Edinburgh there is now at least the option of some easy listening.

The prison at Saughton has started its own radio station, Clink FM, to help provide a bit of entertainment to those serving their sentence.

While they may be locked away and paying their debt to society however, the life of those inside the jail has often been opened up to the public over the years.

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In 1959, there were huge crowds at the jail as the public turned out in record numbers for the annual sale of prisoners’ work, which raised £1000 to supply the inmates with new materials. The work was produced during training schemes which included one teaching the convicts how to build brick walls.

In 1960, the Evening Dispatch brought a bit of light entertainment to the jail by hosting a Sports Forum quiz between prison officers and police teams. In 1992, country and western singer Hank Wangford and the Lost Cowboys treated the prisoners to a bit of jailhouse rock when they held a concert in the visiting room to kick off their Festival run, with the singer getting the 100-strong crowd onside by announcing “You may not be pleased you came to Saughton, but we sure are!”

Saughton has even hosted weddings, with inmate James Mclean married by the Rev John Wood inside the prison in 1958.

The prison has moved with the times, of course – in 1992, Lord James Douglas Hamilton used a visit to the facility to try out its very own gym, noting that the prison punch bag was “like being at the dispatch box fielding questions”.

Today the cells of prisoners at the jail are frequently covered with posters and pictures reminding them of life on 
the outside.