Een huis om te bewaren. De ontstaansgeschiedenis 1840-1848 van het strafcellengebouw gelegen ten noorden van het Pesthuis in Leiden, in de volksmond: de Vrouwengevangenis
In the House of Detention in Amsterdam, completed in 1850, the thermo-ventilation system used there seems to result in an oppressive climate, especially in summer. In his letter of July 20, 1851 Warnsinck states that this problem had also been noticed in the model prison of Pentonville, where the cell windows were made to open again in such a way that communication through the open windows was nevertheless impossible. As an additional advantage he remarks that in summer there is no need to light a fire, so it is cheaper, too…!
He encloses a sketch of a solution, so that in Amsterdam the windows can also be opened again. In 1843 the architect Warnsinck and the engineer Van Gendt were sent by the Dutch government to England and Scotland to study the latest developments in prison design and construction. On their return they reported very positively about the ‘Pennsylvanian system’, and especially about its most recent culmination in the model prison of Pentonville in North-London.
Shortly thereafter Warnsinck and van Gendt were commissioned with the design of the new prisons in Amsterdam (1850) and Utrecht (1853), whereby they followed the Pentonville-model very closely. At the same time Warnsinck was also appointed as the first architect-adviser to the Department of Justice, with the special task of introducing the principles of the ‘cellular system’ in the design of other prisons in the Netherlands. As such he advised on the design of a small complex of disciplinary cells in the Military Prison, housed in the former Pesthuis of Leyden.
In his proposals for this very small building he also stuck very closely to the Pentonville model, including the system of ‘thermoventilation’. The eventual building, completed in 1848, shows that his advice was only partially followed up by the responsible authorities. Architecturally the building showed many features of Pentonville to the smallest details, however the thermo-ventilation system was left out and was realised for the first time in the Amsterdam Prison. Despite this deficiency the Leyden prison can be considered as the prototype of the ‘cellular prison’ in the Netherlands.