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

  • Alyson Brown
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Abstract

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.

Keywords

Evening News Press Coverage Daily Mail Penal Policy Daily Telegraph 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

  1. 11.
    For more on this, see A. Barton and A. Brown (2011) ‘Dartmoor: Penal and Cultural Icon’, The Howard Journal50 (5): 478–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 13.
    See J. Curran and J. Seaton (2010) Power without Responsibility: Press, Broadcasting and the Internet in Britain ( London: Routledge ), Chapter 5.Google Scholar
  3. 14.
    C. Emsley (2011) Crime and Society in Twentieth-Century England ( Harlow: Pearson Education ), p. 109.Google Scholar
  4. 15.
    S. Chibnall (1977) Law-and-order News: An Analysis of Crime Reporting in the British Press ( London: Tavistock Publications Limited), p. ix.Google Scholar
  5. 18.
    P. Scraton, J. Sim and P. Skidmore (1991) Prisons under Protest ( Milton Keynes: Open University Press ), p. 118.Google Scholar
  6. 19.
    Davies (1994) ‘Cinema and Broadcasting’, in P. Johnson (ed.), 20th Century Britain ( London: Longman ), pp. 265–9.Google Scholar
  7. 20.
    Bingham (2004) Gender, Modernity and the Popular Press in Inter-War Britain ( Oxford: Clarendon Press ), p. 13.Google Scholar
  8. 27.
    G. Rose (1961) The Struggle for Penal Reform ( London: Stevens & Sons Ltd ), p. 174.Google Scholar
  9. 34.
    R. Adams (1992) Prison Riots in Britain and the USA ( Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan ), pp. 60–5.Google Scholar
  10. 38.
    M. Benney (1948) Gaol Delivery for The Howard League for Penal Reform ( London: Longmans, Green and Co ), p. 1.Google Scholar
  11. 39.
    A.J. Rhodes (1933) Dartmoor Prison: A Record of 126 Years of Prisoner of War and Convict Life, 1806–1932 ( London: John Lane The Bodley Head Limited ), pp. 238–9.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Alyson Brown 2013

Authors and Affiliations

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

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