THE multi-million pound redevelopment of Northallerton’s former prison is to pay homage to its historic past.

The 3.5 acre site is to be called "The Treadmills" - recognising that not only was the prison home to the world’s largest treadmill, but that at one time the number of wheels at the prison ran into double figures.

Hambleton District Council and the Hull-based Wykeland Group have formed the Central Northallerton Development Company Limited, to drive forward the scheme - which will include shops, managed workspaces, restaurants, a cinema, heritage centre and an area for public events.

“The name reflects the prison’s history and makes sure we never forget what life was like for prisoners behind those famous walls,” said CNDCL board chairman, Cllr Peter Wilkinson.

“The future of this site is very exciting - we are looking forward to see it starting to take shape and breathing new life into a central part of our historic market town.”

Already much of the old prison has been demolished - leaving just five listed buildings which will be incorporated into the development, and the gatehouse which will be removed as part of the project.

Archaeological work has revealed the foundations of the large treadmill. It is believed there could have been as many as six mills in the prison at one time - with women and men being put on the wheels as punishment. They were also used to pump water around the buildings and grind corn for the local farmers.

A planning application for the scheme - with details of phase one which includes two retail sites and parking - is expected to be lodged this summer.

The prison dates back to 1780, housing prisoners for more than 230 years before closing in 2013.