The Crank

Contributed by Ruthin Gaol

The Crank was a piece of machinery for punishment. It served no other purpose than to exhaust and punish a prisoner who had been misbehaving in Gaol, or was sentenced to Hard Labour. The prisoners would have to turn the handle up to 15,000 times a day. It was the job of the warders to set the crank - it could be made easier or harder, depending on how much the authorities wanted to punish the prisoner to be set to the crank. As this was done through screws on the crank itself, this was how the slang term for prison warders came about. The original "screws" were the - inevitably unpopular - warders who adjusted the settings of the crank.

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