Prison which locked up serial killers converted into luxury apartments

Now that’s a ‘forever home’! Grade II-listed 19th Century lifers’ prison which locked up serial killers, a Nazi war criminal and Eastenders ‘Dirty Den’ actor is converted into 64 apartments going for up to £325,000

  • HMP Kingston in Portsmouth, Hampshire has been converted into luxury apartments with original features
  • Now known as ‘The Old Portsmouth Gaol’, the former lifers’ prison flats are going for between £250k-£325k
  • It housed inmates such as Eastenders’ Leslie Grantham, Archibald Hall, Anthony Sawoniuk and the M25 three
  • Built in 1877, the prison only housed men serving life sentences following the abolition of capital punishment

A Grade II-listed 19th-century lifers’ prison which locked up serial killers, a Nazi war criminal and an Eastenders ‘Dirty Den’ actor has been converted into 64 apartments going for up to £325,000 – giving a new meaning to ‘forever home’.  

HMP Kingston in Portsmouth, Hampshire, has been transformed into luxury apartments known as ‘The Old Portsmouth Gaol’. 

The former lifers’ prison, originally built in 1877, exclusively housed men serving life sentences following the abolition of capital punishment in 1965.

Notable inmates included Leslie Grantham who served time there after he shot and killed a German taxi driver before portraying Eastenders villain ‘Dirty Den’. Others included Scottish serial killer Archibald Hall and Nazi war criminal Anthony Sawoniuk.

After the jail doors closed for the last time in March 2013, the conversion project by St Cross Homes began in 2020.

HMP Kingston in Portsmouth, Hampshire, has been converted into luxury apartments known as ‘The Old Portsmouth Gaol’

The conversion of the old lifers’ prison into 64 luxury apartments has given a new meaning to the phrase ‘forever home’

The bedrooms also have a contemporary monochromatic interior with high-quality flooring, white painted woodwork and recessed lights

Each apartment features a contemporary combined kitchen, lounge and dining room including an integrated fridge/freezer, washing machine and modern handle-less soft-close doors and drawers

The apartments have kept some of their original features, including their imposing 19th-century exterior and being converted around the historic ‘rotunda and wings’ arrangement common among Victorian prisons.

Now a series of two-bedroom apartments are up for grabs, all with allocated parking and ranging in price from £250,000 to £325,000.

The apartments have kept some of their original features, including their imposing 19th-century exterior and being converted around the historic ‘rotunda and wings’ arrangement common among Victorian prisons. 

In addition, the original doorways, internal balustrading, stonework, windowsills, stairs and landing features have been retained.  

Each apartment features a contemporary combined kitchen, lounge and dining room including an integrated fridge/freezer, washing machine and modern handle-less soft-close doors and drawers.

In addition, the original doorways, internal balustrading, stonework, windowsills, stairs and landing features have been retained

The bathrooms feature ‘clean lines’ that are complemented with contemporary fittings and marble-effect wall and floor tiles

A series of two-bedroom apartments are up for grabs, all with allocated parking and ranging in price from £250,000 to £325,000

Martin Merrett, director of Bernards Estate Agents, who have been handling the sale of the apartments, says the building has ‘turned into something quite special’

Notable inmates included Leslie Grantham who served time there after he shot and killed a German taxi driver before portraying Eastenders villain ‘Dirty Den’. Others included Scottish serial killer Archibald Hall and Nazi war criminal Anthony Sawoniuk

The bathrooms feature ‘clean lines’ that are complemented with contemporary fittings and marble-effect wall and floor tiles.

HMP Kingston’s Famous Inmates  

Leslie Grantham – Eastenders Actor

Leslie Grantham

Grantham is best known for playing ‘Dirty’ Den Watts in Eastenders. He served ten years for killing a West German taxi driver and had a sex scandal in 2004.    

Anthony Sawoniuk – Nazi war criminal 

Anthony Sawoniuk

A Belarusian Nazi collaborator and the first and only person to be convicted under the UK’s War Crimes Act 1991. He took part in the murder of the Jewish community in his hometown, before serving in the SS. 

Archibald Hall (also known as Ray Fontaine) – Scottish serial killer

Archibald Hall

He became known as the ‘Killer Butler’ as he committed his crimes while serving some of the members of the British aristocracy. 

The M25 Three: Raphael George Row, Michael George Davis and Randolph Egbert Johnson


The M25 three. L-R: Raphael Row, Michael Davis, Randolph Johnson

The three were wrongly jailed for life after being convicted for murders and robberies that took place around the M25 in December 1988.  

The bedrooms also have a contemporary monochromatic interior with high-quality flooring, white painted woodwork and recessed lights.

Martin Merrett, director of Bernards Estate Agents, who have been handling the sale of the apartments, says the building has ‘turned into something quite special’.

Martin, from Portsmouth in Hampshire, said: ‘It was a lifers’ prison, so it certainly does bring new meaning to the phrase ‘forever home’.

‘It’s been in and around Portsmouth for a long time, so it’s a bit of a local institution in both senses.

‘It’s fantastic what they’ve done down there. What would’ve been a derelict building has turned into something quite special.

‘We’ve had viewings and everyone’s really impressed with the historic feel that the site still has, but with a modern twist.

‘It’s created a lot of interest and is a bit of a talking point around the town – we’ve not really had any issues selling the apartments.

‘I think the buyers are banking on having nicer neighbours than the building was used to. And, of course, they’ll be able to move around freely.’

The conversion of the old building was overseen by chartered surveyors Chris Flint Associates.

Director Chris Flint said that it was a ‘one-off’ opportunity to work on such a historic site, and said in the eyes of many potential buyers ‘the prison is the real feature’.

Chris, from Portsmouth, Hampshire, said: ‘It’s a one-off really – you probably wouldn’t find one or two of these in a lifetime of work.

‘It’s been really good, and we’ve done a lot of work with Portsmouth City Council’s planning department and their conservation officer to retain as much as possible whilst integrating a modern apartment in what was a really old building.

‘It’s a listed building as well, so it’s been tricky but that relationship with the council has worked really well to bring forward essentially what was a redundant building.

‘It’s a really super building, and very attractive externally with the original stonework and windowsills – the actual architectural detailing of it is really special. 

‘For me personally, you move away from that relationship of what happened internally to one of a modern approach. You step away from that prison and into what is now residential accommodation.

‘With a number of people I’ve spoken to who have been interested in buying, the prison is the real feature.

‘There’s a distinction between the two but a lot of people do like that association. The buyers definitely get to keep hold of their own keys though.’

In 2003 an inspection report found that the elderly prisoner unit at Kingston was in an unacceptable condition, as there was insufficient privacy, little natural light and ventilation and restricted movement.  

Ian Maguire, assistant director of regeneration at Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘Portsmouth City Council is always keen to work with partners to enhance brownfield sites and preserve the heritage of the city.

‘Finding landowners and quality developers who share our city’s vision and reflect the dedication and commitment of the council’s planning team is essential. I am delighted that this been achieved on the HMP Kingston site.’

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