To most people the “Bridge of Sighs” means this:
If you’re British or fortunate enough to have studied at one of the top universities you might even think of Cambridge or Oxford.
Well, if you were unfortunate enough, you could walk on the Bridge of Sighs in Chester in the late 18th and early 19th century. Back then, the bridge led from the Northgate gaol (jail), across the Shropshire Union Canal, to a chapel in the Bluecoat School. Condemned prisoners would cross the bridge to receive the last rites before their execution – some of them sighing, knowing what was to come. Hence the name Bridge of Sighs.
The bridge used to have an iron railing to prevent prisoners from escaping.
Prior to the crossing the prisoners probably spent their last few days or hours in the ‘Dead Man’s Room’ – the cell for prisoners who were waiting to be executed.
The Northgate gaol was on the right and the school chapel on the left.