HM Prison Barlinnie is a prison operated by the Scottish Prison Service and located in the residential suburb of Riddrie, in the north east of Glasgow, Scotland.


Barlinnie was designed by Major General T.B. Collinson, architect and engineer to the Scottish Prison Department, and it was built in the then rural area of Riddrie adjacent to the Monkland Canal (now the route of the M8 Motorway), first opening with the commissioning of A hall in July 1882. Barlinnie prison consists of 5 accommodation halls: A, B, C, D, and E, that were built in stages between 1882 and 1897, with each holding approximately 200 inmates. There was a major extension to the perimeter in 1967 to create an industrial compound. From 1973 till 1994, the world-famous "Special Unit" placed emphasis on rehabilitation, the best known success story being that of reformed Glasgow gangster Jimmy Boyle.

Capital Punishment

A total of 10 judicial executions by hanging took place at HMP Barlinnie between 1946, replacing the gallows at Duke Street Prison, and 1960, before the final abolition of Capital punishment in the United Kingdom for murder in 1969:

  • 8 February 1946 - John Lyon, aged 21 yrs
  • 6 April 1946 - Patrick Carraher, aged 39 yrs
  • 10 August 1946 - John Caldwell, aged 20 yrs
  • 30 October 1950 - Christopher Harris, aged 28 yrs
  • 16 December 1950 - James Robertson, aged 33 yrs
  • 12 April 1952 - James Smith
  • 29 May 1952 - Patrick Gallagher Deveney, aged 42 yrs
  • 26 January 1953 - George Francis Shaw
  • 11 July 1958 - Peter Manuel - aged 31 yrs
  • 22 December 1960 - Anthony Miller - aged 19 yrs

Each of the condemned men had been convicted of murder. All the executions took place at 8.00 am. As was the custom, the remains of all executed prisoners were the property of the state, and were therefore buried in unmarked graves within the walls of the prison. During the D hall renovations of 1997, the prison gallows cell (built into D-hall) was finally demolished and the remains of all the executed prisoners were exhumed for reburial elsewhere.

Current Use

Today it is the largest prison in Scotland, regularly holding well over 1000 prisoners, although it has a design capacity of 1018. The prison currently receives prisoners from the courts in the West of Scotland as well as retaining male remand prisoners and prisoners serving less than 4 year sentences. It also allocates suitable prisoners from its convicted population to lower security prisons, including HMP Low Moss and HMP Greenock as well as holding long-term prisoners in the initial phase of their sentence, prior to transfer to long-term prisons such as HMP Glenochil, HMP Shotts, HMP Kilmarnock or HMP Peterhead.

Barlinnie prison still consists of 5 accommodation halls with each holding approximately 200 inmates. There is also a hospital unit with accommodation for 18 prisoners, which includes 8 cells specially designed for suicide supervision. A new administration and visiting block was completed in 1999 and all five accommodation halls were refurbished between 1997 and 2004.

The prison is colloquially known as the "Bar-L" in some parts of Scotland. The in-cell bucket-as-toilet routine known as slopping out was still in practice there as late as 2003. Since 2001, refurbishment has taken place after critical reports by the Scottish Chief Inspector of Prisons .

Notable former inmates
  • Paul Ferris
  • Jimmy Boyle
  • Footballer Duncan Ferguson was imprisoned in HMP Barlinnie for 44 days in 1995.
  • Abdelbaset al-Megrahi
  • Duncan Bannatyne
  • Tommy Sheridan (since moved to an open prison)