In 1863, The Argus ran a series of articles on Pentridge Prison. B Division – 28 April 1863 The selected excerpts from this rather upbeat article refer to meal time and the prisoners’ daily schedule.
THE PENAL ESTABLISHMENT AT PENTRIDGE
….. The mess-room is a very large apartment, 180ft. long, and 24ft. wide. Here the prisoners at meal times are seated, five in a row on each form, their faces all turned one way, so that a small number of warders have a complete supervision over all. Here, as elsewhere in the establishment, three meals a day are served – breakfast at seven o’clock, dinner at noon, and supper at five. The first meal (full rations) consists of half a pound bread, a pint of hominy (about 15oz.), and half oz. sugar. The dinner consists of 12oz. meat and bone, a pint of soup (the liquor in which the meat is boiled), 1 lb. potatoes, half lb. bread, and half oz. of salt. Supper consists of a pint of hominy, 4oz bread, and half oz, sugar. The meat served is always fresh boiled meat, beef and mutton mostly the former. One prisoner carves for each, mess of five, and if either of the other four disapprove of his impartiality in adjusting his own claims to a due share, the option is given to the dissatisfied person to exchange plates with the carver. ……
……. Prison life is certainly left to present its own repulsive aspect but its terrors are not heightened by the incapacity or unnecessary harshness of the gaolers. The prisoners’ day for the present month (it varies with the season, as the days shorten or lengthen) is thus measured out to those who have passed the discipline of the Panopticon :-Rise at 6.15 a.m. ; leave the cells or sleeping-wards at 6.30; prayers at 6.50;breakfast at 6.55 ; muster for labour at 7.15; dinner at 12 ; muster for labour at 1 ; school at 4 ; supper at 5 ; prayers, 5 25 ; they are locked up, at 5.30; and perfect silence must be observed after half-past seven o’clock.
Such is prison life at Pentridge. Cleanliness, and generally robust health, intervals for reflection, and opportunities for learning useful labour, with the additional advantage of being taught to bear restraint, and becoming thoroughly and practically acquainted with the steady outages of losing honest freedom – these are all forced upon the condition and mind of all the prisoners. …………..
Ten years later, The Australasian Sketcher for Pen and Pencil – 4 October 1873 featured illustrations from Pentridge Prison.
The State Library of Victoria summarises the history of the gaol.