Whether you’re meeting film crews, watering the plants, or hearing strange noises, life as the security guard of an abandoned prison is full of surprises. We spoke to Jay from the security team at Holloway Prison, who gave us an animated insight into his experiences.
Jay, who is one of three security guards at the prison, has been working in the role for the past two years. As he reflects on his 12-year career as a security guard, discussing the monotony of long shifts on one-man sites, this is clearly an exciting change.
Since Peabody bought the prison in 2019, there has been a busy programme of film productions and walking tours on site. With people coming in and out of the prison all week, Jay’s role often goes beyond his job description, and it is something he welcomes. “When I came to the job, no one mentioned to me any tourists, or the filming going on (but) it is good from my side because the days fly by!”
Alongside meeting and greeting, the guards also keep busy with maintenance duties, such as gardening and cleaning-up graffiti on the site hoardings.
Of course, security in the prison used to be very different, focussing on keeping people inside, not keeping them out.
The guards patrol the site 10-12 times a day, covering up to 22km with their dogs. “Since I have been here I have lost 10 kilos!” Jay exclaims, “people think it’s a really easy job because it’s (obviously) hard to escape a prison, so it must be hard to get in. But don’t forget, there were hundreds of guards here keeping an eye on what was going on!”
And it can get spooky at night, Jay admits. On a patrol one evening, he reports hearing noises in one of the cells and his dog “going crazy”, but finding nothing inside…
We think the security team at Holloway are doing an amazing job taking on new responsibilities, always giving a friendly welcome to visitors, and keeping the site safe and secure.