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Hunger Strikes in British Prisons, 1913-1940  > 
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Hunger Strike in British Prisons 1913-1940


There were 43 recorded strikes in 1932, and though they were spread over 12 prisons, 16 of the strikes took place at Dartmoor. As the tables below show, only one strike with a known start and end date lasted more than 2 weeks. An overwhelming majority of the strikes, nearly three-fourths, have no record of force feeding.

There is evidence of one coordinated strike in 1932, stemming from the Dartmoor Mutiny. On January 24, 1932, around fifty prisoners incited a riot in the prison yard during morning exercises. They took control of several buildings and set fire to the Administration block before reinforcements could put down the rioters. Later investigations suggested that the riot was a cover for a planned escape, which was unsuccessful. 

In March and April of 1932 the record shows Dartmoor prisoners going on hunger strikes to protest their treatment, especially the crackdown which limited their exercise privileges. Although the strikes did not start and end uniformly, there are groups who start and end at the same time, all with similar complaints about exercise or conditions in Dartmoor.

Another notable strike in 1932 was a protest not against conditions inside prison, but about life on the outside. William Nicholson was a prisoner in Manchester, though the record does not include his crime or sentence. On November 10, he went on an 8 day hunger strike, citing a "grievance against [his] landlord who locked his shop and kept him out of it." He went on another strike in December which lasted for 28 days, protesting his treatment, but "by whom he does not make clear." While most prisoners went on strike to protest their punishment or conditions in prison, Nicholson appeared to want to draw attention to concerns outside of prison.    

Duration of Strikes

This table includes the 42 strikes for which there was a definite start and end date. 

There was 1 strike for which the length could not be determined, due to a missing end date.

Notable Strikes, 1932

Strikes related to Dartmoor Mutiny

Strikes Related to Dartmoor Mutiny
Strikes Related to Dartmoor Mutiny

William Nicholson

William Nicholson First Strike
William Nicholson Second Strike