HE had a reputation as Reformer and more than a century before the very idea of a health service free at the point of service became a reality, one medical officer had a similar belief and notion.

The role of prison doctor William Forrest was instrumental in saving lives during an outbreak of cholera in Stirling linked to the water supply.

Before he was appointed as Medical Officer of the New County Jail, Dr Forrest's methods were being noticed - a hero to some, and a villain to the others.

His work and legacy have emerged in recently revealed documents at Stirling Old Town Jail tourist attraction.

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In 1831, not long after the creation of the first Stirling Infirmary, he became Attendant at the Stirling Dispensary – offering free medical treatment to those too poor to pay. He became known as ‘The Scottish Chadwick’ – showing the same stubborn dedication as that great English social reformer, Edwin Chadwick, in fighting for a clean, safe water supply for the Burgh, rich and poor alike, to combat the Cholera epidemic which swept through the Burgh in 1832, and helped persuade many that the Stirling Waterworks Act, which provided safe, clean water to the town was a sound investment.

Secrets from the past revealed in new documents and journals at tourist attraction

Secrets from the past revealed in new documents and journals at tourist attraction

As the attraction reopens its doors to visitors after months of enforced solitary confinement, it has benefited from significant investment to transform the visitor experience, as well as a fresh batch of tales from ‘The Tollbooth’, the nearby jail house known as “Britain’s worst prison” until its prisoners were relocated to the ‘friendlier’ ‘Old Town Jail.’

The Old Town Jail, which is one of Stirling’s top visitor attractions, will mark its reopening by allowing people to go ‘Scott-Free’ – anyone whose first name or last name is Scott will be able to enter the visitor attraction without paying next weekend.

For 400 years, Stirling's prisoners were kept in the woeful conditions of the old Tollbooth Jail. Following pressure for improvement and prison reform the new purpose-built Stirling Old Town Jail was opened in 1847 and was used as the only military prison in Scotland from 1888 until 1935.

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The attraction offers visitors an insight into the history of crime and punishment in Stirling and an opportunity to see what life was like behind bars more than 150 years ago.

The new self-guided audio tour enables visitors to enjoy an interactive, but socially-distanced, visit featuring an entertaining and informative series of new stories about the City’s gruesome past and life in the original jail, including recently rediscovered excerpts from the original Governor’s journal.

The upgraded attraction will feature the Jail Break Escape Room in the Governor’s Office, which opened up last summer before restrictions forced the attraction’s closure. Inmates will be up against the clock to discover which of the crooked guards have been trafficking stolen goods through the prison.

Following the successful application to the Scottish Government Town Centre Fund distributed by Stirling Council, the attraction has undergone a significant refurbishment, allowing visitors to experience a host of new features safely, in-line with government guidance.

The team has worked with interpretive and design business Studioarc to develop the new displays and with students from Forth Valley College to create an in-depth audio tour. Other new features include a “Scene of the Crime” exhibition and 360-degree views of the city from the stunning observation tower.

The grant funding comes on the back of continued success for Old Town Jail since it reopened in 2015.

Founder Geoff Morrison said ”We are excited to be able to welcome visitors to safely discover the vibrant history of Crime and Punishment in Stirling.

"We have been immensely proud of the team’s achievements over the last few years in putting the Jail back on the map and the support from Stirling Council has been instrumental in enabling us to build upon the continued success of the attraction.”

This investment is part of a strategy by Stirling Council to ensure the city continues to be a must-visit destination for tourists.

Stuart Oliver, Senior Manager for Economic Development and Communities, said “Stirling Council continues invest in Stirling’s city centre and this support for the Old Town Jail will help ensure the city continues to be a must-visit destination for all.

“Tourism is vital to Stirling’s economy and as the sector reopens in line with Scottish Government guidance, I encourage visitors and residents to come along and enjoy our wide range of world-class historic attractions, especially the enhanced experience of the Old Town Jail, in a safe and secure environment.”