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The Old Prison Compound Of Port-Louis

“L’ancienne prison de Port-Louis”, a heritage which needs to be protected urgently. Learn more on its history, and the rich events occurred there.

Old Prison Compound Port-Louis

Located in Port-Louis, between Maillard Street and George Guibert Street, there is an old establishment that has been abandoned and is located right behind the Renganaden Seeneevassen Building. This establishment frequently piques the interest of numerous individuals. The Old Prison Compound, or “L’ancienne Prison de Port-Louis” as it is more commonly called, is the location in question. Unfortunately, the current generation is not aware of the significant role that this institution once played in the community as well as its extensive history dating back to the 1830s.

Erected In The 1830s

With the intention of detaining formerly enslaved individuals who were awaiting their trials at the court, the Old Prison Compound was established in the year 1839. From that point on, prisoners who were formerly indentured laborers continued to complete their sentences, a process that lasted until 1953. There were a great number of notorious criminals that were incarcerated there, like Pic Pac, who was even sentenced to death in 1953 and was executed along with his comrades at the prison premises. Even though it is still in existence today, the gallows where it took place is in a horrible shape. The murder of two children, whose bodies had been found drowning in the reservoir at Fort Adelaide in 1951, brought them to the forefront of public attention. They were the final individuals to be put to death at the Old Prison of Port-Louis by execution.

Some months after it was first implemented, there was a noticeable increase of hundreds in the number of people who were incarcerated. Slavery had already been abolished at that point in time, and those who had been formerly enslaved were experiencing the period of apprenticeship. Additionally, new buildings were constructed in order to handle the growing number of inmates.

Inside the prison
Inside the prison.

Many Prisoners Were Transferred To Beau bassin

In the late 1880s, while the Beau Bassin prison was being built, the British government made the decision to relocate a higher number of prisoners from the Old Prison of Port-Louis to the new facility. Despite this, the number of convicts at Port-Louis was still high enough to be considered overcrowded. In 1891, a riot broke out inside the prison because it was overcrowded with inmates.

The eerie cells of the prison give you the impression that there is a higher concentration of negative energy there. Just try to picture how the captives used to live in such a cramped cell, wailing out their agony and waiting with bated breath for the opportunity to experience freedom, even though many of them were denied it. Those who were executed were able to witness their final existence being extinguished in front of numerous witnesses.

The stairs
A stair used by inmates & guards.
The stairs to be in the prison building
The entrance of the "Minor Prison" part.
The Old Prison Building
The building today, next to a parking.

Now, abandoned...and forgotten?

During the year 1990, the Renganaden Seeneevasen Building was constructed, which required the partial demolition of the prison. Recently, there has been a lot of talk about the old walls because of their poor condition and the fact that they will collapse if they are not rebuilt. It is imperative that the remnants of the Old Prison Compound be preserved, and they should even be included in the list of national heritage sites. In the course of our history, the events that took place there hold a massive amount of significance.

Author & References

Ali Jareehag

Author: Ali J | Date Published: July 6, 2024 | Last Updated: N/A

References: Port-Louis – Histoires D’une Capitale (Jean Marie Chelin), HISTOIRE
La prison de Port-Louis (Ile Maurice Kaya), Sauvegarde du patrimoine de la capitale – La Vieille Prison (1839) au pied de l’échafaud (Le Mauricen)

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