An aerial shot of the Maze/Long Kesh
H6 Block Silver City Staff Area Visiting Building Control Building Hospital Kitchen Chapel VTC Gymnasium Football Pitches H7 Block H-Block Compounds/Cages - Visiting Area Golf 6 - i.e. Gate 6 Tango 6 i.e. (Watch)tower 6 Nissen Hut Compounds / Cages of Long Kesh Hangar

H6 Block

Silver City

This part of the site, adjacent to the Compounds / Cages, housed the army camp known as Silver City, and also staff lockers and accommodation for Compounds. The army camp was closed in September 2000.

Staff Area

This area contained the Staff Club, the Governors’ lounge and accommodation, staff lockers and staff car park.

Visiting Building

“There was plenty of heartache and plenty of craic in that section of the jail” - Prisoner

A red brick, multi-storey building within the prison complex. It replaced portacabin visiting facilities that originally served the H-Blocks when they opened in 1976.

Prisoners received one half hour visit a week or, if on protest, one half hour visit a month. Each prisoner was designated a ‘box’ or partitioned table and chairs for their visit.

Control Building

“The Maze was actually pioneering the development of control rooms” - Prison Officer

A multi-storey building, containing the emergency control room and various offices. Each H-Block also had its own individual control room.

Control Building Plan.

Control Building Plan. Archive of Steve Jensen Design


“This is a part of the Maze that will be in my very bones ‘til the day that I die” - Prison Officer

The hospital contained both individual cells and small wards. It also included a recreation room, dental surgery and small operating theatre. This was the location where ten men died during the 1981 hunger strike.

Hospital Plan and Elevations.

Hospital Plan and Elevations. Archive of Steve Jensen Design


“I must say it was a happy, busy place, people all seemed to be enjoying what they were doing, it wasn’t like slave labour” - Educator

A large single storey building in which food was prepared for the prisoners.

Kitchen plan in the archive of Steve Jensen Design

Kitchen Plan. Archive of Steve Jensen Design


“A minibus would pull up, the bride in her full regalia, her bridesmaids, would step out the back of a minibus, come in and come up and have a wedding in here.” - Prison Chaplain

Opened in 1989, it was never used for regular services as it was deemed a security risk. However, weddings did take place here, as well as graduations for prisoners who undertook Open University degrees in the prison.

Chapel Archive of Steve Jensen Design
Entering the chapel, in the archive of Steve Jensen Design
Plan and Elevations of Chapel. Archive of Steve Jensen Design

Chapel Plan. Archive of Steve Jensen Design


“It wasn’t menial work, it was something that you learned a trade at” - Prisoner

“You’d have walked up here and come up, by the football pitches, and up into the VTC” - Prisoner

Vocational Training Centre.

Courses were offered in motor-vehicle body repair, welding, electrics and joinery. It was possible to gain qualifications through the centre and obtain ‘City and Guilds’ certificates.

The motor mechanics vocational training course , 1981.

The motor mechanics vocational training course , 1981 . ©PRONI ref: INF/7/A/8/21


“Once a week you’d maybe get out to the gym” - Prisoner

“You could have played basketball, 5 a sides, volleyball, stuff like that” - Prisoner

A large windowless building which contained a basketball court and weightlifting equipment.

Gymnasium, 1981.

Gymnasium, 1981. ©PRONI ref: INF/7/A/8/19

Football Pitches

“You’d never stop the men going to their football match. That was when you saw them really happy” - Educator

“The physical instructor would have been, he would have been refereeing the match and done everything by the book” - Prisoner

“Irish games were forbidden” - Prisoner

Two large football pitches were used on a rota system by the prisoners.

Football pitch, 1981, in Maze and Long Kesh.

Football pitch, 1981. PRONI ref: INF/7/A/8/18

H7 Block

The H-Block from which thirty-eight PIRA prisoners escaped by taking prisoner officers hostage and hijacking a food lorry, on 25 September 1983.

Poster detailing the escape of H-Block 7.

Poster depicting the 1983 escape. PRONI ref: D4629/1/12/7/3


“The whole architecture of the H-blocks, it is not a normal type of architecture, this is an architecture that grew out of the whole horrific conflict situation.” - Prison Chaplain

Each H-Block was constructed in the shape of a “H”, with a central administrative area (known as the ‘circle’) and four wings of cells (A, B, C and D wings). Each wing was self-contained and contained 25 cells. Each H-Block was identified by a number e.g. H-Block 2 (or H2).

Artist's impression of 'H' block building, 1981.
External view of an H-Block, 1981.
An empty H-Block classroom, 1981.
H-Block classroom, 1981
Being taught in a H-Block classroom, 1981.


Compounds/Cages - Visiting Area

“The highlight of your week would be getting the call for a visit” - Prisoner

A prefabricated building which received visitors and checked parcels. Internees and prisoners were allowed one half-hour visit a week.

Golf 6 - i.e. Gate 6

Tango 6 i.e. (Watch)tower 6

Nissen Hut

“I was no expert on escaping or tunnelling, but every person in the hut was expected to do their duty” - Prisoner/Internee

“You could have played basketball, 5 a sides, volleyball, stuff like that” - Prisoner

Semi-cylindrical hut built using corrugated metal, which could be partitioned into cubicles.

Outside Hut 28 in Maze/Long Kesh
Corridor in one of the hut's at Maze/Long Kesh
Corridor in a hut in Maze and Long Kesh.

Documentation of an attempted escape from a compound within Maze and Long Kesh Prison, 5 May 1976.

PRONI Ref: RUC/12/39/1

Compounds / Cages of Long Kesh

“I still think it was probably one of the most extraordinary contexts that I ever said mass in, or that I ever sort of related to people in any sort of a pastoral way” - Prison Chaplain

“The prison authorities referred to them as compounds but we as prisoners referred to them as cages” - Prisoner

“Basically you were simply left to your own devices.” - Prisoner

“You were unlocked in the morning at 8 o’clock and locked up at night at 9 o’clock and during the day you had free time to do whatever: walk, run, sing, listen, read, education” - Prisoner/ Internee

Following the introduction of internment in August 1971, Long Kesh – a disused WW2 airfield near Lisburn, south of Belfast – was used as an internment camp. Due to prison overcrowding, from December 1972 Long Kesh was also used for sentenced prisoners. The camp was divided into multiple compounds (also known as ‘cages’), each surrounded by razortopped wire fencing and containing multiple makeshift Nissen huts to accommodate the men. In total, 22 compounds/ cages were constructed in Long Kesh. They remained in use until 1988.

An escape hole at the prison
A hole dug in a cell
An outside view of one of the huts in the Maze and Long Kesh
The after effects of the Maze escape.
A hole dug into the concrete of a cell.
Lockers filled with towels and bedding
a bed pulled away with sandbags on the floor.

Documentation of an attempted escape from a compound within Maze and Long Kesh Prison, 6 November 1974. Taken from an album from the Royal Ulster Constabulary archive collection. Reproduced with the permission of the Deputy Keeper of the Records, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.


Aircraft hangars built for the Royal Air Force (RAF) station at Long Kesh, 1941-1946. Used in 1942 by Short Bros. to assemble and test-fly Stirling bombers. The hangars were later used by prison staff: the hangar on the right was used for prison stores; the hangar on the left was empty until the 1990s, when a mock-up of half a H-Block was built inside for prison staff to conduct riot control manoeuvres. Following the prison’s closure, the hangars are now the home of Ulster Aviation Society and their collection of aircraft.

Long Kesh in 1942, an aerial view.

Official aerial photograph of RAF Long Kesh airfield, 28 July 1942. Image courtesy Ulster Aviation Society.