Mark’s History: The last man to hang at Armley Prison?

armley prison
Appeal. HMP Leeds. Photo: Mark Stevenson

I was looking for some info on Armley Prison when I came across a comment that said Charles Peace was the last man to be hung in Armley in 1879, writes Mark Stevenson.

Hanging: Armley Prison. Photo: Mark Stevenson

I was fairly certain that the last hanging was of Zsiga Pankotia in 1961.

It turns out the guy who left the comment was choosing his words carefully.

Apparently, after the hanging of Charles Peace, the gallows were moved from near the hospital to near the kitchen which meant they crossed the ward boundary that runs through the prison.

Photo: Mark Stevenson

They crossed from the Armley side to the Wortley side, so thereafter everyone was hung in Wortley but still in Armley prison.

I have not been able to find out if this is true or not but you can clearly see on the maps that the ward boundary does run through the prison.

Further on in the comments, it mentions that in the 1950’s the gallows were moved from one side of the kitchen to the other.

Does anyone know if the gallows were moved after Charles Peace’s hanging?

Photo: Mark Stevenson


  1. As far as I am aware Charles Peace was the last PUBLIC execution at Armley Goal on what is now called ‘Jaily Field’ i.e. the green area directly in front of the prison which was accessed via a gateway in the wall, now bricked up. All subsequent executions were carried out INSIDE the prison and were only witnessed by the Chief Warden, Wardens and the prison doctor.

  2. The gallows were moved inside following the double hanging of Emily swann & John Gallagher in 1903 for the murder of frederick bywater. The executioner in charge was John Billington assisted by John Ellis. When the gallows were moved inside they were housed inside a hanging shed just in front of A-wing in the victorian side of the prison, it’s now part of the prisons workshops – bodies post hanging were buried where E/F wings, healthcare, kitchens & gym now stand. I’ve worked there 13yrs & one of the old PO’s there when I started was a history buff and told us all about it.

  3. According to the following there was only one Public Hanging at Armley Gaol. It was a double hanging but not the one that Nic refers to in his comment. It was of James Sargisson and Joseph Myers and, according to the Leeds Mercury, between 80,000 and 100,000 people witnessed it on 10 September 1864.

    There was only one woman hanged at Armley Gaol and that was Emily Swann in conjunction with her lover John Gallagher. Full details of the case and execution can be found here:

  4. The only public exicution was the first one outside on the jail field. After this all exicutions were held inside.


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