MAYOR Allah Ditta will lead a tour of the prison cells deep below Worcester’s Guildhall, where many of the city’s worst criminals awaited their fate, today.

The guided tour is part of a book launch by best selling local author Bob Blandford to mark the publication of his latest release “Worcestershire Bird”, which tells the inside tales of Worcester City and County Jails, their inmates and their lives and crimes, For some years, Bob was press officer at Worcester City Council and cllr Ditta came up with the idea of the personally conducted cells tour as a bonus at the launch event.

Bob said: “While no trace remains of either the old city jail in Friar Street or the county jail in Castle Street, the room that’s now the mayor’s parlour was once the city’s high-activity police and magistrates’ court, while the underground cells at the Guildhall remain in the same condition as when they were in daily use as holding cells where thousands of prisoners from both jails spent the moments immediately before and after their sentencing.

“The mayor’s offer was made as a gesture of thanks to me after we struck-up a lasting friendship during his first mayoral year fifteen years ago.”

Copies of “Worcestershire Bird” – convict-speak for “time” as derived from bird-lime with which jailers coated the walls to prevent their charges’ escape – as well as books on Worcester’s pubs and the former city police force, will also be available for signing by the author. Covering 516-pages, “Worcestershire Bird” lists more than 4,500 Worcestershire criminals who were either imprisoned in the city for serious charges, or transported to Australia for terms varying from two years to life. It also tells the stories of 38 men hanged in the County Jail over much of its 108 years’ active operation between 1814 and 1922. The official public launch and Guildhall cells’ tours take place in the mayor’s parlour this Saturday between 1pm and 4pm.