Charles Bronson has described what it was like being caged underground next to Britain’s most dangerous prisoner at HMP Wakefield – also known as ‘Monster Mansion’ – after having revealed all in a brand-new documentary. Watch the clip here:
Bronson was first imprisoned for armed robbery in 1974 when he was just 22, but his initial seven-year sentence was extended due to his attacks on guards and other inmates. It wasn't long after he was released in 1987 that he was back behind bars, leading to a total of more than 40 years in prison.
Now one of the UK’s longest-serving inmates, Bronson is currently housed inside HMP Wakefield in West Yorkshire, a Category A prison that’s home to some of Britain’s most high profile offenders – including serial killer Robert Maudsley, who was once in the cell right next to Bronson’s.
While in F-Wing, Bronson became Maudsley’s next-door neighbour in the underground cells, with both sharing a TV in a small room that separated them.
In new documentary HMP Wakefield: Evil Behind Bars, Principal Officer Mick O’Hagan explains: “There was a gap between the two – they could actually see each other, they could converse.
“There was a television in the middle, they could choose what programmes went on.”
This, Bronson says, would often cause friction between the two inmates, admitting they used to get into arguments – about soaps, of all things.
In an exclusive phone call for the programme from the inside, Bronson recalls: “The two original cages what me and Bob was in – inside the cell, you actually got a two-inch piece of glass.
“But we always used to end up arguing because Bob would want to watch Emmerdale and I’d want to watch Coronation Street and things like that.
“Bob would want to watch something else, and I’d want... and we was arguing all the f**king time, mate.”
In the documentary, O'Hagan also remembers what it was like the day Bronson arrived at the prison, saying he was insisting on wearing a shell suit instead of the official prison overalls.
O'Hagan says: "I said, ‘If you come to me a bit, I’ll come to you a bit’. I said, ‘And I don’t do that very often’.
"I said, ‘You’re a keep-fit fanatic’. I said, ‘You wear prison issue overalls, and I’ll put you on the exercise yard for an hour a day’.
“And he sort of thought about it for a bit and said, ‘Yeah, okay’.
“So that was the first coming together, as it was.”
Bronson also speaks about how he arrived having 'just taken Governor Wallace hostage', with a 'broken jaw, a couple of broken fingers, two black eyes, a dislocated nose'.
"So they slammed me in the cage and a couple of days later, Mick O’Hagan’s come to my door," he recalls.
O'Hagan continues the story, explaining: "I opened the outer door and said, ‘You’ve been in solitary for 21 years', I said, ‘Don’t you want to get out?’
“He said, ‘Of course I do'. I said, ‘Well, you’re going the wrong way about it, aren’t you, all this kicking off and assaults and hostage taking?' I said, ‘Why don’t you start using your loaf, start boxing clever?’”
O’Hagan suggested Bronson tried writing, poetry or art, and took him a sketch pad and some coloured pencils.
“It took over his life,” he says. “He sat all day long at his little table, doing all this stuff.”
Bronson adds: "All these years later, I’ve now got 19 published books, I’ve won 11 Costa Awards for my art and my poetry. When I got locked up in 1974, it was for a pump action shotgun, 12 bore, sawn off, and I’ve got rid of that now and now I’ve got a sawn-off paint brush!
“So really speaking, it was down to Mick O’Hagan that I really became a better person.”
Along with Maudsley and Bronson, we hear about the prison's other famous inmates, including Roy Whiting and Jeremy Bamber.
A synopsis says: "Through interviews with ex-inmates, retired screws, and relatives of Britain’s most infamous inmates, we unlock the cell doors and uncover the secrets of life inside the UK’s toughest jail.
"Exclusive phone-calls from one of the UK’s longest serving inmates Charles Bronson reveal first-hand what life is really like as inmate in Wakefield Prison. Bronson’s son George recounts how his life changed forever when he was summoned to the prison to meet the Dad he never knew he had. And we hear never before told stories from inside the walls of Wakefield about Jeremy Bamber, arguably as famous for his fight to get out of prison than for the crimes he committed to be sent there."
Watch HMP Wakefield: Evil Behind Bars on My5 now.Featured Image Credit: Channel 5