Located in the basement of Brighton’s Town Hall, you would be forgiven for not noticing this tiny but fascinating little museum at first glance. Look a bit closer, make a note of the contact details and clear a space in your diary (for you have to pre-book a visit). Trust me, it’s worth the effort.
The following is an account of what happened when the Museum Adventurer went to the Old Police Cells on a work outing…
For many, there is no more terrifying coupling of words in the English language than “work” and “outing” but when our Museums at Night intern, Holly, suggested taking the team on a tour of the Old Police Cells the phrase “work outing” brought untold joy! Well, to me, at least – for you see the Cells had been on my To Visit List for quite some time…
Poor Holly had barely begun her tour-guiding spiel when some of the more excitable among us began asking “What’s this? What’s this?” as we pointed to seemingly random objects. She patiently explained before leading us down the dark staircase, deep into the belly of the building, where the criminals were incarcerated.
Some of the cells had been used as a setting for a show as part of the Brighton Fringe festival and some of the show-biz ephemera lingered in the form of blue filters on the lights, which just added to the eerie atmosphere. There’s nothing like learning about local murderers standing in a cold, dark cell bathed in a cold, blue light that makes everyone look like murder victims – not that we would have to fear any murderers, because there were a whole load of policemen (and, indeed policewomen) around.
What a fine looking bunch! There’s nothing quite like a Museum Mannequin is there? Apparently some of these fine examples are former lingerie models!
It must get a bit dull being stuck in a cell with nothing to do but kick your heels and “think about what you’ve done.” Surprisingly, some feel the creative urge whilst sitting in a cell. With no access to pen and paper, the prisoner takes advantage of the only blank canvass available to them: the cell wall. Some of the graffiti we found in the cells was quite impressive, what do you think?
One of the most fun things about visiting the museum was the chance to dress up. I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion that I’m partial to putting on a costume at every opportunity and luckily, the Police Cells had a massive wardrobe to chose from. IT WAS SO MUCH FUN.
I’m considering a change of career based purely on the uniform.
I’ve often wondered where would be the best place to head to if a Zombie Apocalypse ever happened. I’ve often thought that HMS Belfast or the Tower of London would be suitable places to shelter from the Zombie storm but now I have a new hidey-hole: the Old Police Cells.
An odd choice you might think, but consider it: the building is easily defensible, is close to the sea, and perhaps most importantly, HAS ITS OWN SUPPLY OF FRESH WATER.
Perfect, no? Unless… the undead have already breached the defenses!