Dartmoor Gaol Battle: The Dartmoor Riot as a National Media Event

  • Alyson Brown


On the first day of January 1932, the Daily Mirror and the Manchester Guardian published the same photograph of a visit made to Dartmoor Convict Prison by the Home Secretary, Sir Herbert Samuel. Several officials were walking towards the camera; in the background was the distinctive clock tower of the prison’s main administrative block.1 Just over three weeks later (Monday 25 January), many newspapers published dramatic aerial images of smoke and flames billowing out of the same administrative block, which had been set alight by rioting convicts.2 TheDaily Mirror claimed that their image of the chaotic scene was ‘an exclusive picture taken from a “Daily Mirror aeroplane” which took photographs of scenes “without parallel in the history of this country”’ Figure 4.1.3 The Daily Mail promoted the speed with which reporters travelling by airplane could arrive on the spot.4 In response to intimations of problems at the prison, the firstDaily Mail ‘special correspondent’ had arrived at the scene on the day before the riot, also by airplane. The dramatic view was vividly described, a ‘TALL column of smoke climbing into the air directed my aeroplane to the heart of Dartmoor, where below me lay the grim fortress of the Princetown convict settlement’.5 On 25 and 26 January newspapers showed the crumbled remains of the distinctive clock tower and central block, the unstable remains of which had to be pulled down.


Evening News Press Coverage Daily Mail Penal Policy Daily Telegraph 
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Copyright information

© Alyson Brown 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alyson Brown
    • 1
  1. 1.Edge Hill UniversityUK

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