York Town Square

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Wanted: Demolished or standing, info on old lockups, jails around York County

Before York’s Centre Square market sheds were pulled down in 1887, someone checked to ensure that no prisoners were in the underground city lockup that was dug out under one of the sheds. York’s Police Heritage Museum is collecting information on other lockups around the county. Background posts: Late June marks pivotal moments in York County history, First York County prison irked British prisoners, Prison listing brings back food loaf memories.

Many towns around York County in the 19th and 20th centuries had lockups for temporary detention of prisoners. And sometimes they served as overnight lodging for transients.
York’s Police Heritage Musuem has posted photos of several demolished and existing buildings from around the county on its Web site and is looking for more… .

Lockups from Delta to Dover are shown there.
One missing lockup is the still-standing Windsor jail on West Gay Street.
The book “Windsor Borough: The First One Hundred Years” notes the jail was built in 1905, and stands today without its original slate roof but with an original stove and a second door.
The book contains one of those interesting, sometimes near-tragic stories associated with such old lockups:
In 1932, the Laurel Fire Company was called out for a report of smoke coming from the small brick building’s window.
The two prisoners residing there were freed under guard until the smoke from some rolled up bedding had cleared out.
No matches were found on the prisoners, but a subsequent investigation showed that the wife of one of the detainees has slipped him a box of matches.
A cigarette might have been the direct cause of the fire.
The lockup was later moved to the fire company building with a fire-proof partition of cement blocks.
At least, if a fire then occurred it wouldn’t spread and pumpers would be nearby to avert tragedy.
Photo courtesy York County Heritage Trust