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Dartmoor, Wakefield and the First World War

Dartmoor and Wakefield prisons were both used as First World War Home Office Work Camps after compulsory conscription was introduced in 1916, housing conscientious objectors (COs) who had been sentenced to imprisonment for refusing to obey military orders.

The photographs (mostly photographic postcards) here include images of Dartmoor and Wakefield in the first two decades of the 20th century. The photographs of Dartmoor include views of the halls, images relating to the prison's treatment of indiscipline or insanity - a silent punishment cell, 'insanity testing box' and shot of a man in a straitjacket - and a photo of a prison visit. Several of the photographic postcards are dated 1910, the other images are undated. The photographs of Wakefield include undated views of the halls and images of the cells and exercise yard from 1917-1918, when the prison was occupied by COs. A photograph of COs at Knutsford prison on Whit Monday, 1918, has also been included.

The majority of images are from the archives of the Howard League for Penal Reform. The one exception is the photograph of a man in his cell, which shows Rowland Barrett during his imprisonment as a CO in Wakefield. Several other documents relating to the imprisonment of conscientious objectors are included in our digital collection First World War 100: conflict and commemoration, including a petition signed by inmates of Wakefield.