A MUSEUM and learning centre at the Portland Young Offender Institution has welcomed 1000 visitors through its doors since opening last year.

In March 2014, South Dorset conservative parliamentary candidate Richard Drax visited the deputy governor’s building to open the new prison museum and the Lighthouse Learning Centre.

The 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 he wanted to thank the 1000 visitors, both from overseas and from the local area, who helped make the museum such a success in its first year.

He added: “We are delighted to have welcomed so many visitors; the museum is only open four days a week so if you think of it like that this seems even more of an achievement.

“Some people have come a long way to visit us, which we are very grateful for. We also have a visitor’s book which is full of positive comments from members of the public about the items on display and the museum itself.

“Both of those things reassure me that what we are doing here is so worthwhile and people enjoy visiting us.”

The museum is open to the public on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between 10am and 2pm.

The learning centre also offers prison officer access training.

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

Mr Hutton said a new tourist sign has been put up for the museum on the corner of Grove Road and he hopes that this will attract even more visitors.

He added: “I would like to see more visitors overall, but specifically from Portland Port and Weymouth. I would be over the moon if more people came to see us and found out what we have to offer.

“I was transferred to Portland in 1991 and us old timers always used to say how nice it would be if there was some sort of museum.

“There’s such a lot of history here and the YOI is a big part of Portland.”

Anyone interested in visiting the museum is advised to check opening times prior to visiting.

To find out more about the museum, call 01305 715726.


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