The Lock-Up: Unlocking History at West Midlands Police Museum

The Lock-Up: Unlocking History at West Midlands Police Museum

A photo taken through a keyhole of a prisoner in a cell, wearing striped black and white clothing.
The museum offers insight into the experiences of prisoners from Victorian times to the modern day. Photo: West Midlands Police Museum.

Heritage Grants

West Midlands Police
Our funding has enabled the museum to move into a Victorian custody block, the last of its kind in the country.

The Lock-up was in operation from 1891 until 2016 as a police holding facility, and its transformation into a museum has secured the future of the Grade II listed building.

The museum houses an extensive collection showcasing the history of policing in the West Midlands from the early 1800s to today. Visitors can explore a vast collection of custody photographs, medals, uniforms, personal records and police equipment that chronicle the evolution of policing.

A photo of the inside of the police museum, in a Victorian jail building. Two police motorcycles are displayed on a landing, surrounded by cells, with a glass ceiling above.
Many of the Lock-up's original Victorian features have been preserved. Photo: West Midlands Police Museum.


The museum is accessible to a wide range of visitors through large print guidebooks, foreign language guides, 3D models and physical improvements to the building. British Sign Language tours are in the pipeline and visitors who are affected by noise levels can take advantage of regular ‘relaxed’ openings, with reduced numbers, adjusted lighting and quieter interactives.

Beyond immersive exhibits, the museum offers educational resources and a learning programme, engaging with communities and schools through outreach events, history talks, screenings, performances and opportunities for corporate events.

Our funding has also helped the West Midlands Police Museum with:

  • training over 80 volunteers and developing staff skills, from procurement, design and construction processes to project management, business-planning and stakeholder engagement
  • creating new visitor facilities such as a gift shop, café and conference space
  • growing its social media presence and an interactive website

A visitor to the museum said: “As a visually impaired person, I also found the museum very accessible. Each room was well lit with careful consideration given to ease of mobility for the visually impaired.”

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