Prison hulks on the River Thames
|Establishment of the prison hulks|
Many prisoners served their entire sentence on the hulks. Others were housed there until a space could be found on a transport ship to Australia.
The use of the hulks was seen as a temporary measure, and so was first authorized by Parliament for only two years. But despite the concerns of some members who deplored its inhumanity, the 1776 Act lasted for 80 years. It was regularly renewed and extended in scope 'for the more severe and effectual punishment of atrocious and daring offenders'.
The Woolwich Warren
On the southern shore, the Woolwich Warren was a maze of workshops, warehouses, wood-yards, barracks, foundries and firing ranges.
Home of the Royal Arsenal
These facilities were gradually being expanded. However, an adequate river harbour was essential if development of the Woolwich Warren was to continue.
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