In 1848, harsh physical punishment within the prison was rejected in favour of punishment of the mind. Flogging gave way to solitary confinement.
The Separate Prison was built at Port Arthur in 1850. Cruciform-shaped, each of the four wings comprised a central corridor flanked by rows of solitary confinement cells. Separated by thick sandstone walls, it was hoped that the convicts would benefit from contemplative silence and separation.
Henry Singleton spent a long time in the separate prison. Read more about him here.
Between 2003 and 2008 PAHSMA undertook a major conservation project to better assist visitors to understand how this style of punishment worked.
As you enter the Prison, a voice reads out the Rules and Regulations of the Separate Prison as they were read to each man who was imprisoned here. Your echoing steps along the central hall take you to A Wing, and the cells where the men spent their days—sleeping, waking, working and eating.
In the narrow exercise yard, you find yourself surrounded by high, imposing walls, revealing a sliver of sky, your only link to the outside world.
The Separate Prison is a must-see part of the Port Arthur experience.
The Separate Prison is open daily from 9.00am until dusk. Access is included in your Site Entry Pass.