MG Owner’s Club (NI) had arranged a visit to Crumlin Road Gaol on Sunday 28th July 2013. Club members made the trip from all parts of the province: we even had David and Rita Cochrane making the journey from Fintona, a round trip of 150 miles which was completed in an 1955 MG TF with the hood down!
Twenty five cars set off from the start point in East Belfast taking a scenic route through Belfast. Arriving at the Gaol we were privileged to have a special parking area allocated and this enabled all the cars to be parked together making for a nice photo shoot.
The forty-two members were divided into two groups for the tour, each having a tour guide allocated. Harry, better known as the ‘Gov’ was our guide and what an enjoyable trip he made this into. The Gaol dates back to 1845 and closed its doors as a working prison in 1996.
After extensive renovations, the Gaol re-opened as a visitor attraction and conference centre. The guided tour of the prison lets you hear about the history of the site from when women and children were held within its walls through to the political segregation of republican and loyalist prisoners and learn about why the decision was taken to close the prison.
I am sure most can remember watching episodes of ‘Porridge’ on television with Ronnie Barker and the walk through the prison relives this experience. The tour covered all aspects of the Gaol from the tunnel linking the courthouse on the other side of the Crumlin Road, the flogging cell to the hanging Cell which was quite a macabre experience.
After the ninety minute visit members were able to avail of some refreshments before setting off for the journey to Carrickfergus. Arriving in Carrick the group made their way into Josh Mac’s Flame Grill for what turned out to be an excellent meal.