heritage
© Olivia Page Photography

Preserving an icon

In Pentridge, Coburg is experiencing a renewal that honours the past while looking to the future. By sensitively utilising and preserving the key elements of this iconic site, the redevelopment of Pentridge will provide a unique place to live, work, enjoy and belong.

Shayher's Commitment

Pentridge’s treasured architecture deserves preservation.

In accordance with the long-term Masterplan for the adaptive reuse of Pentridge, Shayher Group have commenced work in restoring the heritage assets on site.

The work includes restoring six guard towers around the entire site, the historic rock breaking yards and re-roofing the Division A building to stop leaks and remove existing damage. The work is expected to cost over $2 million and will ensure these heritage assets are preserved and remain historically accurate for generations to come.

The Heritage Interpretation Masterplan sets out our approach to showcasing and interpreting the history and heritage of Pentridge.

The Conservation Management Plan sets out the basis for the preservation of the physical environment at Pentridge.

The Pentridge site is set to evolve in the coming years and will combine both heritage buildings and modern architecture to create a community inclusive site. Shayher Group is committed to ensuring the heritage aspects of Pentridge are both restored and protected throughout this process. All existing historic buildings will be retained for public use, enabling new generations to explore the history in their bluestone walls for years to come.

The Rock Breaking Yards Construction and Guard Tower documents set out our approach to restoring these historical assets.

The history of pentridge

In Pentridge, Coburg is experiencing a renewal that honours the past while looking to the future. By sensitively utilising and preserving the key elements of this iconic site, the redevelopment of Pentridge will provide a unique place to live, work, enjoy and belong.

THE STOCKADE, PENTRIDGE, MELBOURNE. 1849. THE FIRST ESTABLISHED RECEPTICAL FOR CRIMINALS Source: State Library of Victoria picture collection online
1850
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On 5 December 1850, 16 prisoners are marched to the site from the Melbourne Gaol. The prison begins its life as a stockade made of log huts on wheels surrounded by a low 1.2 metre fence. Local residents are outraged by the inadequate security.

Plan of Pentridge prison [cartographic material] / lithographed at the Crown Lands Office, Melbourne by R. B. Kelly. Source: State Library of Victoria picture collection online
1857
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As Victoria’s population continues to increase, so too does its criminal population. This leads to a need for a more permanent complex of prison buildings and a second phase of construction is undertaken between 1857 and 1864. The perimeter walls, Entrance building, A, B and D Divisions and the Warders’ residences are all built during this period.

Pentridge Prison Panopticon Ruin. Photographer Michael J Fromholtz, 2015. Source: Wikimedia Commons
1858
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It is believed that silence and solitude are the best methods of reforming prisoners. This results in the construction of the Panopticon. Prisoners are contained in the wedges of a circle while prison officials are stationed at a central inspection house. Prisoners are isolated in their cells for 23 hours a day, with just one hour in the ‘airing yard’, as the panopticon is called. Talking is forbidden and the prisoners are addressed only by their cell numbers.

Plan of building allotments Pentridge [cartographic material] Source: State Library of Victoria picture collection online
1865
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Pentridge becomes the main prison for Victoria’s female offenders when A Division is built.

Carpenter's shop Pentridge. Source: Picture Victoria
1870
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As a result of the Stawell Royal Commission, an extensive work program is implemented with a number of industries established on the site including a wool mill, tailor’s shop, blacksmith, carpenter’s workshop and timber yard.

Coburg Pentridge Gaol J.T. Collins Collection. Source: La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria.
1884
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A Division is superseded by a new female prison within Pentridge that provides separate accommodation for women. Segregation is complete: even the guards and Governor are women.

Entrance F Division, Pentridge jail, Victoria. Photographer Alan K Jordan. Copyright. Source: State Library of Victoria
1924
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Pentridge supersedes Melbourne Gaol as the main remand and reception prison for the metropolitan area.

Bunk Beds F Division. Photographer Alan K Jordan. Copyright. Source: State Library of Victoria
1956
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A purpose-built prison for women, HM Prison Fairlea opens, bringing to an end the use of Pentridge as a permanent women’s prison.

Group of prisoners walking towards the prison farm, Pentridge Prison / Alan K. Jordan. Copyright. Source: State Library of Victoria
1967
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Ronald Ryan is hanged and becomes the last prisoner in Australia to receive the death penalty.

*** Quadrangle F Division Photographer Alan K Jordan. Copyright. Source: State Library of Victoria
1970
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The 1970s are a time of unrest at Pentridge. Political and social radicalism emphasising the rights of the individual shines a spotlight on the treatment of criminals and brings the concept of prison reform to the fore.

Part of Jika Jika - K Division - Pentridge Prison, Coburg. Source: Coburg Historical Society
1980
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Jika Jika opens as a maximum security 'prison within a prison', designed to house Victoria's hardest and longest serving prisoners.

Main entrance of former H.M.Prison Pentridge in Melbourne. Author: Melburnian. Source: Wikimedia Commons
1987
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A fire in Jika Jika started by inmates results in the death of five prisoners and the closure of the maximum security division just eight years after opening.

D Division Mid Tier East Wing. Source: Picture Victoria
1997
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Pentridge officially closes on 1st May, finally ceasing all operations as a prison.

Hin Lim Photography
2013
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The Northern part of Pentridge, referred to as "Pentridge Coburg", is purchased by Shayher Group, who are committed to retaining the heritage of the site while transforming it into a usable community asset.

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Pentridge is a major development for the Coburg area, and Shayher Group is committed to engaging with the local community to ensure an outcome which we all can be proud of.

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