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  1. #11

    Default Cell door locks in Norwegian Cell Prisons in 1851 and the 1860's

    Thank you for you kind reply, Shammon.

    I would surely like to have the opportunity to see your exhibition! Hope you'll post pictures of your exhibition, so I at least can experience it digitally. Als the "art" of escaping - interesting for me! Going through history and prison records for 250 years, I have seen some variants of those in the prisons I know - sawing ironbars with soap to reduce noise, digging through brick walls etc.

    Also thank you for your interest in my books. They each describe one of three (in my district) out of 56 local cell prisons all over this country (800 cells in all - mostly small prisons) - built in a reform in the 1860's. Norway is a relatively large country with a small population - even more so in the 1860's. In my books I try to describe this reform. One of our local 1860-prisons is still in use, one was destroyed by German bombing during the invation in april 1940 and the smallest one was terminated as a prison in the autumn of 2005. The latter is now renovated, and an integrated part of the the newly built cultural school i Molde opened in the autumn 2016. The earlier cells are meetings rooms and offices for the school master and teachers. This is a success - the staff, children and youth thrive!

    The books contain a lot of pictures - but the text is of course Norwegian. Text scanning and Google Translate should make it possible to understand.

    If you want the books, I will be happy to send them to you. Just send your postal adress to my e-mail:


    Best regards

    Knut Even

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  2. #12



    Thanksto Shammon and gmanphotog for kind replys!
    I try once more – my earlier post came out a bit messy!

    The lockI have is solid and quite simple. Warded – is that the cover on the inside ofthe lock? My lock is a slam lock. When locking, the handle is lifted (notturned) when slamming the door. For double- lock the key is rotated one turn tothe right (or left, depending on derection of door swing). Unlocking byrotating the key opposite direction.

    I guess perhaps my lock must be the older type invented byJohn for Pentonville – simple, cheap and less sophisticated? This type was madeby several locksmiths in Britain? The nice form of the brass keyhole plate - canthat be the “key” to the problem? Did both Gibbons and Smith make that design?

    I havethree cell door locks of the same type – two of which working with key. I havestripped one of those for paint, but didn’t notice any identification. Thethird lock was smashed by an angry prisoner, and is not working! In the weekendI will open this and watch closer for traces of the maker. My locks come fromthe same prison, of which I enclose a picture of 1896. The locks were solid,but they demanded attention by the staff – escapes happended by prisonerstricking the guard into the cell and slamming the door! The locks also had thereputation of being easy to pick – with the hook of a hanger etc. In the 1890’s,a officer one night forgot to lock the hatch in the cell door – the prisoner openedthe hatch, and picked the cell door lock open. He didn’t get very far – he wasfound the following morning – stuck in one of the chimnys – black as a wiper!

    My lockhave quite an impressing service life – from 1865 to 1978 – when the originalcell doors were changed to modern steel doors! I guess the locks must have beenoverhauled a couple of times in their career. And perhaps modified? As a law student,I worked in the summer as a prison officer in one of the bigger 1860-prison in Bergen(closed in 1990). The cell locks there were similar – worked the same way – buthad a small knob coming out of the cover plate - indicating double lock. Canthis be a modification, or were some of these locks originally made like this?I also worked a bit in one of the biggest prisons in Oslo, built in 1934. Thelocks there were made by a locksmith in Oslo, but interestingly as a smallercopy of the type of lock I have, workingthe same way. They too had the double-lock indicator knob. These lockswere on the outside of the cell door, not slotted into it. I enclose somephotos of this lock.
    Hope you find this material interesting.

    Best regards
    Knut Even
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