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The hulks were decommissioned warships anchored in the mud off deep-sea ports on like Deptford on the Thames River. They were dark, damp and full of vermin, and few prisoners managed to escape. Around 40 ships of the Royal Navy were converted for use as prison hulks during the 18th and early 19th centuries.
One prisoner who managed to escape, describes the horror of his time:
"The heat was so intense that we were all naked, which served well to get rid of vermin, but the sick were eaten up alive. The air was so foul that at times a lamp could not be kept burning, by reason of which the bodies were not missed until they had been dead ten days."
The Hulks were purchased by a private company in the mid-1880s along with the ruins of an abandoned garrison just south of Deptford Creek for unknown purposes, but there were rumors of renewed patrols on the old garrison walls and ghostly cries emanating from the Hulks...