This two-storey red brick building has one side integrated into the Dockyard wall and contains 12 cells. It originally also had a police post and search area, playing a vital role in Dockyard security and preventing theft.

Theft of materials was a real problem within the yard, and one which generally resulted in the discharge of the offender. Workers were allowed to take home oakum (loose fibres collected from unravelled rope and used with pitch to make seams watertight) and chips (pieces of wood smaller than three feet which fell from the axe), but had to pass through ‘the search’ to ensure that this was all they were taking.

The Cell Block was also used to detain drunken sailors overnight. A wheelbarrow was kept on standby for those who needed help getting to the building.

From 2014 to 2015, with help from the Regional Growth Fund, we restored and converted the Cell Block for use as a University of Portsmouth operated innovation hub. We made sure to preserve its original features, like the ornate Victorian cast-iron lavatories.

The cells of this building, classified as grade I, are now leased by the University as private offices for small and start-up digital creative businesses, as part of its Innovation Connect network.