The Western Estate

Marshalsea Prison

In a purely legal sense, Marshalsea Prison – an old Victorian red-brick affair dating from 1892, and the the third gaol to bear the name – is not legally part of the estate. The main body of the building is beyond the official borders of the estate, but the only access to the prison is via the roads on the western part of the area, making it part of the estate for all practical purposes.

For all that one of its predecessors was considered the capital’s second prison (after the Tower of London), modern Marshalsea is a small affair – the country’s smallest category A prison, with a maximum capacity of just 184 prisoners.  Most of the time, it holds around 170 individuals within it’s walls, and while not all are serious violent offenders, many are.

Local legend says that an inmate who died in the prison in 1904 confessed to being Springheel Jack before he passed away.

The Book Dump

When the estate was built, the planners had grand visions for the provision of facilities to further education and self-improvement among the local residents.  Sadly, council cutbacks lead to the closure and sell-off of the main Redriff Library in 2010, and part of it’s collection being moved to a new, much smaller facility that those locals who care about such things refer to sighingly as “the book dump”.  

It’s not hard to see why, as the building isn’t much more than a couple of large-ish rooms in which a paltry collection of books are very loosely organised onto shelves by local youths on community service, rather than trained librarians.  There are gaps on the shelves, and frequent misfilings, but it’s probably still better than no library at all.  Probably.

The Old Cooper Factory

The massive building that formerly housed the Cooper Factory is still owned by that family, and is the legal headquarters of their haulage business, but it’s very rare to see any of their distinctively-liveried lorries on the estate these days, absent for very rare special commissions that a private client has arranged to have brought to the marina, and moved on from there by the Coopers.

The Coopers only use the building these days for office space, and have mostly refitted the building for that purpose, and indeed, hire large parts of the offices out to other business.  However, the building retains a small amount of warehouse space and an occasionally-used loading dock.

People working late in the building have reported hearing strange mechanical noises at odd hours, even though the warehouse and loading dock are empty, and people often joke that the building is haunted by the ghosts of its former factory machinery.

The Police Station

The police station is the subject of much controversy in the area.  It was due to be closed in 2017, and the officers employed there moved to a purpose-built new facility a short distance from the estate, but campaigning by members of The Association, (who seemed to think it was important that the local police presence remain within the bounds of the estate) put a stop to the plan.

This campaigning wasn’t universally popular, particularly with members of the Thompson and O’Malley families, some of whom took predictably direct action against some members of The Association, and tensions still remain on the estate as a result.

The Crossroads Club

While the area does have both Scout and Guide troops, a lot of the estate’s residents have fond memories of their time with the unconventional Crossroads Youth Club. Rather than forcing kids into a series of the sorts of activities that adults think kids should want to do, the staff at the Crossroads have generally been more interested in what the kids themselves want to do, and organised activities around that – for example, when it became evident that there were a critical mass of kids interested in grafitti, rather than trying to talk them out of it, the staff managed to arrange for them to be allowed to thrown up murals at various places on the estate, and the regularly-changing geometric designs in bright colours the kids have come up with in recent years are generally agreed to brighten the place up.

The club has also has surprising success with kids interested in poetry and performing arts, and maintains quite a good library of poetry and plays for the kids to use to inspire them.