Millbank Prison opened in 1816 and was closed in 1890. During its relatively brief life it was used primarily as a place where prisoners condemned to be transported to Australia would be held temporarily before their expulsion.
The prison was built on the bank of the river Thames in Pimlico, on the site now occupied by Tate Britain. It was built according to the principles of the Enlightenment thinker and proponent of utilitarianism, Jeremy Bentham, who posited the idea of a Panopticon: a prison designed so that all prisoners are visible from a central watchtower. As well as influencing prison design for many years, this idea had a profound influence on the twentieth century philosopher Michel Foucault, whose 1975 book Discipline and Punish discusses its wider implications.