A NEW museum and learning centre has been officially opened at the Portland Young Offender Institution.

South Dorset MP Richard Drax visited the deputy governor’s building to open a new prison museum and the Lighthouse Learning Centre.

The new museum tells the history of Portland prison and occupies two rooms on the ground floor of the building.

Aerial photographs of the area, an old restraining jacket, a replica musket and mannequins showing prison and officer uniforms are just some of the items on display.

Retired prison officer John Hutton, Steve Ashford and Chris Hunt, are responsible for opening the small exhibition.

Mr Hutton, who worked at the Young Offender Institution for more than 20 years, said the opening went ‘very well’.

He said: “There was quite a crowd. I was very pleased.

“There were a few former governors and the widows of some. Everybody seemed to enjoy what we have done.”

The museum will be open to members of the public on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays between 10am and 4pm.

Mr Hutton said he was hoping the museum would attract a variety of visitors.

He said: “There’s a lot of people who write to use from abroad all asking us about their history and grandfathers.

“Hopefully we will have some visitors from the port.”

After opening the museum, Mr Drax made the short journey upstairs to open the new learning centre offering prison officer access training.

A number of courses are on offer, ranging from IT to literacy and mental health awareness to bicycle maintenance.

Mr Drax congratulated the Prison Officers Association for working hard to set up a new centre. He said: “Clearly there is a need for this sort of centre to help prison officer access training, and I wish them good luck in the future.

“Prison staff can feel cut off when working behind the walls. A learning centre like this offers a great opportunity for people to work together outside work and try out a new course or learn a skill.”

Deputy prison governor Steve Hodson said he was delighted to be working closely with the POA regarding the new learning centre.

He said: “We have good industrial relations and I know that staff are our biggest resource.

“A facility like this that is focused on helping staff development is really important and very welcome.”

The centre will be run by Roger Davies, a Union Learning Rep.

Mr Davies said: “We have staff signed up for over 170 online courses already.”