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A Prisoner's Day

Each day on St Helena began officially at 6.00 am, or earlier in the longer summer months – although some prisoners such as cooks and dairymen were usually up well before sunrise.

The day would vary slightly for each prisoner, depending on his job within the gaol. For example, below is the typical daily routine for a prisoner who worked in the tailors workshop…

A Workshop Prisoner's Day

Tailor, Summer 1901

5.45 am 1st bell. Wake-up bell. Prisoner cleans his cramped cell and 'dresses' his hammock.

6.00 am Prisoner joins muster. Head count. Removes and empties slops bucket from his cell. Washes his face and hands in his prison wing exercise yard.

6.30 am Prisoner has breakfast of hominy (corn porridge) in the open-sided dining shelter shed in his prison yard.

7.00 am 2nd bell. Roll call. Prisoner's working day begins. Marches to workshops within stockade. Sits cross-legged on bench in the tailors workshop and toils making flannel shirts.

11.30 am 3rd bell. Prisoner returns to prison yard for dinner of stew, bread and mug of tea, sweetened with his daily sugar ration.

12.30 pm 4th bell. Prisoner returns to tailors workshop.

4.30 pm 5th bell. Prisoner returns to prison yard for head count. Washes.

4.40 pm Supper of stew or hominy in yards.

5.30 pm Recreation in yards.

7.00 pm 6th bell. Roll call. Prisoner locked up in cell for the night.

Tailors workshop
The prisoner tailors took off their heavy prison boots when beginning work in the morning and put on slippers which they made from white cloth.

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