News

Inside abandoned prison where Jon Venables was held as a child killer

These images reveal what life was like inside a juvenile detention center once home to some of the UK’s most infamous child criminals.

Red Bank secure unit in Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, was shut down five years ago, but urban explorer John Webb managed to gain access to the facility and catalogued its eerie remains.

Unsettling images show doors splattered with blood, a note reading ‘I’m dead’ and a wall mural saying ‘All I wanted for my birthday was my dad back, I got a bike’.

The centre was home to Jon Venables, who brutally killed two-year-old James Bulger alongside his accomplice Robert Thompson, in the early 1990s.

John, 26, from Warrington, said: ‘I wanted to go there because I knew about its history and who had once lived there.

‘It was a really creepy experience to be there and to look around, I’d never been to a prison or a detention centre before.

‘As it only closed down five years ago there were so many items still there and things were in quite good condition.

‘The writings on the walls were the weirdest thing, especially the one about the kid who wanted their dad back.

‘It makes you think about the kind of people and the sort of things that must have happened there over the years.’

The present day images show the electrical items, board games, clothes, sofas and snooker tables left behind when the centre was closed in 2015.

Since 1965 the centre, one of several English Local Authority Secure Children’s Homes, had housed a number of the most notorious figures in British criminal history.

Three decades before Venables set foot inside the facility, it was home to fellow child murderer Mary Bell.

In 1968, when she was aged 10 going on 11, Bell throttled two toddlers aged three and four in Scotswood, a district in the West End of Newcastle upon Tyne.