Diagram of the Interior of a Hulk, 1862

There was a shortage of prison accommodation in the Victorian era, so long-term prisoners were transferred to provincial prisons, or to the dreaded hulks. The hulks were decommissioned warships anchored in the mud off Woolwich. They were dark, damp and verminous and few prisoners managed to escape. This is a cross-section of a hulk called the Defence, published in Henry Mayhew's 'The Criminal Prisons of London', in 1862. It was hulks like these that the young Pip could see across the marshes in 'Great Expectations'.