Ruthin Gaol North Wales Ghost Hunts venue was the first House of correction, or Bridewell that was built at the bottom of Clwyd Street, next to the river, in 1654, to replace the Courtroom cells, where able-bodied idlers and the unemployed were sent to work.
Ruthin Gaol rebuild was undertaken after John Howard’s investigations into prison conditions the Denbighshire justices resolved to build new prison in Ruthin on to land of the old Bridewell.
Work started out in January 1775. In 1802 the prison had four cells for prisoners and nine rooms for bad debter. By 1837 it could hold 37 inmates. The Prisons Act of 1865 set new standards for the design of prisons as the Ruthin old Gaol did not meet the standards plans were drawn up for a brand and fresh four storey wing, and the new prison taking up to 100 criminals, in the style of London’s Pentonville Prison and was built at a cost of £12,000.
On 1 April 1878 the Ruthin County Gaol became HM Prison Ruthin, protecting the counties of Denbighshire, Flintshire, and Merionethshire. So far as is known, only one person was ever executed in the prison, William Barnes of Denbigh, aged forty two, who had been hanged on 17 February 1903 for the murder of his wife, his request of insanity having failed.
Another colorful prison personality was John Jones, known as Coch Bach y Bala – who thought of himself as an experienced a kleptomaniac and poacher who had put in more than half his 60 years in all the prisons of north Wales and many in England. He twice fled from Ruthin Gaol, first on 30 November 1879 when he walked away of prison with 3 others while the personnel were having supper. A £5 reward was offered for his capture, which happened the next year in 3 January.
On 30 September 1913 he tunneled out of his cell and by using a rope crafted from his linens he climbed over the roof of the church and kitchen and also over the wall; after 7 days living hard on the Nantclwyd property several miles away, he was shot in the leg by one of his pursuers, 19-year old Reginald Jones Bateman. Jones died of shock and blood loss, while Jones Bateman was charged with drug possession, though the charges were subsequently dropped