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It opened as a remand centre in 1964 to hold 608 prisoners - 514 men and 94 women. Just over twenty years later it was holding 956 prisoners - 831 men and 125 women and during its existence gained a reputation for conditions which were described as "appalling and totally unacceptable" by HM Prisons Inspectorate. Throughout most of its existence it gained the sobriquet "Grisley Risley". The centre ceased to hold women remand prisoners in 1999 and was re-categorised to a prison in 2000.
In November 1972, Jacko Ford was held in the centre for two months following a burglary at Benny Lewis's luxury flat above the Victoria Street precinct for which he had been unwittingly set up by Franny Slater, the true culprit. He was released when Franny's partner-in-crime, Freddie Slack, confessed to the truth.
In December 1978 thug Dave Barnes was held in the centre on some unspecified matter and while he was inside Ken Barlow gave reading lessons to his illiterate wife of seven months, Karen. Following Dave's release on bail, he came after Ken, thinking there was a lot more to their innocent relationship than met the eye.
Following Alan Bradley's arrest for assaulting Rita Fairclough in March 1989, he was held on trial at the centre until his trial in the October when he was found guilty and sentenced to two years although released immediately as he had served the eligible period already on remand. Soon after his incarceration, his daughter Jenny had visited him at the centre, being driven there by Martin Platt.