Port Arthur was named after Van Diemen’s Land lieutenant governor George Arthur. The settlement started as a timber station in 1830, but it is best known for being a penal colony.
From 1833, until the 1850s, it was the destination for the hardest of convicted British and Irish criminals, those who were secondary offenders having re-offended after their arrival in Australia. Rebellious personalities from other convict stations were also sent here, a quite undesirable punishment. In addition Port Arthur had some of the strictest security measures of the British penal system.
One example is the “Separate Prison” system based on Pentonville prison in London. The Separate Prison (sometimes known as The Model Prison) was completed in 1853 and extended in 1855. The 80 cell prison was built in the shape of a cross with radial exercise yards around a central hall and chapel.3 It signalled a shift from physical punishment to psychological punishment. It was thought that the hard corporal punishment, such as whippings, used in other penal stations only served to harden criminals, and did nothing to turn them from their immoral ways. Under this system of punishment the “Silent System” was implemented in the building. Here prisoners were hooded and made to stay silent, this was supposed to allow time for the prisoner to reflect upon the actions which had brought him there. In many ways Port Arthur was the pin-up for many of the penal reform movement, despite shipping, housing and slave-labour use of convicts being as harsh, or worse, than others stations around the nation.
I took this image using my Canon Powershot A550