Carriage for the Transportation of Prisoners
This is one of the most unique carriages found at the museum, because it was built in the early 20th century in Russia for the purpose of transferring prisoners from one institution to another. The carriage is a 20.2 m long wooden-bodied, tinplated passenger coach, as was standard on the Russian railways at the turn of the 20th century. Usually, these type of carriages were used to transport passengers between cities. A corridor, couchette, restaurant and luggage coaches were common.
The slang word for the first prisoner carriages was Stolypin cars, or simply Stolypins. The Minister of Internal Affairs of the Tsarist Russia from 1906 until 1911, Pyotr Stolypin was, perhaps, indeed the one to introduce these carriages; however, the next and biggest wave of their construction and operation came in the late 1930s, at the height of Joseph Stalin’s cult of personality.
The Stolypins featured: a vestibule, furnace room, galley, sanitary facilities, four-berth guards compartment, compartment with a comfortable bed for the senior guard, double-berth compartment for the guard shift, three double jail cells, four quadruple jail cells, sanitary facilities for prisoners, and a vestibule at the other end. Connecting the top berths with a plank made for extra sleeping space in the jail cells. However, it is hard to imagine that one jail cell could accommodate as many as 35 prisoners, as accounts of witnesses suggest.
In 1994, Latvian Railway History Museum bought the prisoner carriage from Jelgava Railway Maintenance Station for the price of its scrap metal, where it had served as a warehouse. It is known that the carriage was once registered at the Baltic railway fleet with the number 3412. It is, perhaps, the only remaining carriage of this kind not only in the Baltics but in the entire territory of the former Soviet Union.
The prisoner carriage was restored beginning in 2006 and completed in 2014. It can be seen during museum excursions or individually organised activities.