Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see ‘About Listed Buildings’ below for more information.

HMP Dumfries including central tower, A and B halls, former entrance wing, gatehouse and boundary walls and excluding C hall, administrative complex to the west of the gatehouse and the single storey detached buildings to the north, Terregles Street, DumfriesLB26346

Status: Designated


Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Local Authority
Dumfries And Galloway
Planning Authority
Dumfries And Galloway
NX 96281 76044
296281, 576044


Designed by Major General T B Collinson, architect to the Scottish Prison Commission, HMP Dumfries was built in a castellated style and opened in 1883. It comprises a rectangular plan site with a prison at the centre, a high boundary wall of squared and coursed tooled red sandstone (some sections have been replaced in brown brick) and a gatehouse entrance to the southeast. The gatehouse has a pair of tall drum towers flanking a round arched and keystoned opening. The corbelled drum towers have arrowslit windows with Latin cross loopholes above. The keystone has a large carved key and above this is the cipher VR surmounted by a crown to represent the reigning monarch at the time of construction, Queen Victoria.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: the circa 1989 gate and administrative complex to the left of the entrance tower, the circa 1967 C hall attached to the west of the central tower and the single storey detached buildings to the north of the site.

The prison itself is constructed from squared and coursed Locharbriggs red sandstone with some cream Cumberland stone dressings. It was originally a T-plan building with the entrance comprising a projecting two storey attic and basement two bay wing with a projecting rectangular porch with round arched openings and a tripartite hoodmoulded round-arched window above and an oculus to the attic. Behind the entrance is an observation-type taller square tower with angle splayed towers at the corners. This tower divides the former women's and men's wings. To the left of the tower is the four bay former women's wing (A Hall) and to the right of the tower is the ten bay former men's wing (B Hall). Both are three storey and basement with regularly-spaced shallow-arched small rectangular window openings and large round-arched windows to their gable ends.

The interior of the halls, partially seen in 2015, comprises a corridor plan with floors of regularly spaced shallow barrel vaulted cells opening off either side of the corridor. The design is simple and functional and there are few architectural features. The floors are supported on curved iron brackets and the top floor has a chevron cornice. The basement walls are tooled and the door surrounds have long and short quoins. The interior of the tower has been refurbished.

Statement of Special Interest

Few purpose-built 19th century prisons survive and only three remain in use as such in Scotland: HMP Perth; HMP Barlinnie; and HMP Dumfries. HMP Dumfries is an important example of late 19th century regional prison architecture. The 1883 building with its cell blocks unmistakeably evidences its function and purpose through its architectural treatment. In addition the gatehouse and boundary wall retain their character as imposing institutional structures.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: the circa 1989 gate and administrative complex to the left of the entrance tower, the circa 1967 C hall attached to the west of the central tower and the single storey detached buildings to the north of the site.

Age and Rarity

Prisons as purpose-built structures did not come into being in the United Kingdom until the 1770s. Until this time, imprisonment as a punishment was not the norm. Prisoners were usually incarcerated for short periods of time before corporal or capital punishment was carried out or they were transported to America or Australia or, in the case of debtors, they paid their debts. In Scotland the local tolbooth often served as the place of temporary detainment and such prisons were run by the burgh. Conditions were usually woeful. All types of inmates would be held together, with no segregation, and usually in a single large room which was frequently overcrowded. Unruly prisoners could be sent to the pit , a dark hole in the ground. Where there were prisons, individual cells were rare.

John Howard (1726-90), one of the most well-known of the prison reformers, visited Scotland and Ireland as part of his tours of prisons throughout the United Kingdom in the 1770s and 1780s. Howard was key in instigating nationwide reform efforts with the publication of his book The State of the Prisons in England and Wales (1777).

Generally, prisons of the 18th century followed a congregate system where prisoners were kept together unsegregated throughout the day and night. Howard and other reformers vehemently condemned this practice as producing moral contamination and corruption. Howard advised that alongside implementing healthier practices of ventilation and the employment of paid gaolers that prisoners should be divided by classes and housed in separate yards. It was increasingly believed that different kinds of prisoners corrupted each other and hence that prisoners of different age, sex and type of crime should be kept apart. Howard and early investigators played a significant role in instigating reform by bringing to public attention the state of prisons throughout the country. Their recommendations regarding health, classification and inspection formed the basis for the reforms and legislation of the 19th century and encouraged architectural design towards providing cellularly divided spaces to fight against the spread of physical and moral contamination within the prison environment.

Prison Acts in 1877 brought prisons under the authority of the Home Secretary, rather than County Boards, and this arrangement lasted until the Criminal Justice Act of 1948. HMP Dumfries was built following the Prison Acts in 1877.

HMP Dumfries follows the pattern begun by the Howard Reforms with male and female prisoners kept in separate wings with individual cells for the inmates. The Dumfries and Galloway Standard of 15 August 1883 gives a detailed account of the accommodation, The new prison contains 83 separate cells, which occupy three floors, and there is also a basement storey which can be converted into cells should an extension become necessary. In accordance with the scheme for systemising penal labour, it is intended to make this the tailoring establishment for the prisons of Scotland. All the uniforms will be made here; and tailors who may be committed for long terms will be sent here from all parts of Scotland…. It goes on to describe how a workroom had been constructed which had a bench for 14 men which was overseen by a window through to the warder s room. It noted that ordinary prison labour would continue to be performed in the cells, but that the workroom or association room will mitigate the rigours of confinement for long sentences.

The cells are described as measuring 13ft 1 and a 1/3 inches by 7ft 1 and 1/3 inches and 9ft in height. They have arched ceilings and are floored with concrete, and the walls are 2ft 3 and ½ inch thick. In the inner wall of each cell was a square recess for a gas jet, which was lighted and extinguished from the outside and protected on the inside with a thick plate of glass. Each cell was furnished with a cord that was attached to a bell in the corridor so that a warder was within call.

Architectural or Historic Interest


Interiors of this building type would be expected to be altered over time as penal reform developed and intact prison interiors do not survive in any number in the United Kingdom. The interior of A and B Halls were designed with a full height central atrium, with the cells accessed by walkways supported on brackets (as shown in photographs on Canmore). These walkways were accessed by stairs at the end of the hall. At the end of the 20th century the central atrium was covered over to each floor, creating a corridor plan but the original gallery arrangement still survives on the upper two floors of A hall.

Plan form

The boundary of the prison site is shown on historic maps, but not the outline of the buildings. The plan form appears to be typical for a late 19th century regional prison. However, the provision of a workroom as described in the Dumfries and Galloway Standard which allowed association between the prisoners may be significant. As Cameron explains in Prisons and Punishment in Scotland (pp130-132) it was not until the Prison Act of 1898 that separate confinement started to be reduced and more work was carried out in association. Unproductive labour (such as the crank and treadwheel) was also ceased. More research would be required to establish if the constructive labour of tailoring and the provision of the association room at Dumfries were amongst the first of their kind.

Technological excellence or innovation, material or design quality

Major General Thomas Bernard Collinson (1821-1902) began his career as a naval surveyor. Following his retirement from the navy in 1873 he accepted the post of architect to the Scottish Prison Commission around 1880. He designed HMP Barlinnie and HMP Dumfries as well as making additions to the now-demolished Calton Prison in Edinburgh. In terms of prison architecture, Collinson cannot be said to be as influential as his predecessor, Thomas Brown, who was responsible for building the first Scottish prisons designed around separation principles.

The castellated style was popularised by the Adam brothers in the late 18th century. In the early 19th century prison architecture tended to be either classical (as at Inveraray) or castellated (as at Jedburgh). The castellated style, used at Dumfries, brought with it connotations of authority and a fortress-like appearance was intended to give comfort to the residents of the town that it was a secure place.


The site occupies the same boundary as it did when constructed in 1883. While there have been alterations and additions to the site, the historic prison buildings remain clearly readable as institutional buildings. The town has expanded to the north and west since the prison was built and it is now surrounded by housing, changing somewhat its semi-rural situation in the 19th century.

Regional variations

Local red sandstone from Locharbriggs was used to build the prison.

Close Historical Associations

There are no known associations with a person or event of national importance at present (2016).

Statutory address and listed building record revised in 2016 as part of the Scottish Prison Service Listing Review 2014-16. Previously listed as Terregles Street, Young Offenders Institution, Formerly Dumfries Prison .



Canmore: CANMORE ID 185454


Ordnance Survey (surveyed 1929, published 1931) Dumfriesshire 055.02 (includes: Terregles; Troqueer). 25 inches to 1 mile. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.

Printed Sources

Cameron, J. (1983) Prisons and Punishment in Scotland. Edinburgh: Canongate

Dumfries and Galloway Standard (15 August 1883) p.4.

Gifford, J. (1996) Dumfries and Galloway: The Buildings of Scotland Penguin Books p.270.

Online Sources

Dictionary of Scottish Architects. T B Collinson at [accessed 12/2/2016]

About Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the 1997 Act. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect subsequent legislation.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


There are no images available for this record, you may want to check Canmore for images relating to HMP Dumfries including central tower, A and B halls, former entrance wing, gatehouse and boundary walls and excluding C hall, administrative complex to the west of the gatehouse and the single storey detached buildings to the north, Terregles Street, Dumfries

There are no images available for this record.

Search Canmore


Map of HMP Dumfries Including Central Tower, A And B Halls, Former Entrance Wing, Gatehouse And Boundary Walls And Excluding C Hall, Administrative Complex To The West Of The Gatehouse And The Single Storey Detached Buildings To The North, Terregles Street, Dumfries

Printed: 29/02/2020 01:23