Nestled away in a quiet street in Ham, hoardings surround the entrance to a disused site.

The site is far from what you would expect to see on the Richmond and Kingston border, and is that of the former Latchmere House Prison, due to be redeveloped.

As twilight began to set in on Halloween, the Richmond and Twickenham Times and Surrey Comet were given a private tour of the mystery that lies behind the hoardings.

Latchmere House, off Church Road, was originally built in the Victorian era as a private home and was later owned by the Ministry of Defence.

The site had many uses until after the Second World War; during World War One it was used as a hospital for treating officers suffering from shell shock and in WWII, it was used as a detention and interrogation centre.

In 1948, Latchmere House was transferred to Her Majesty’s Prison Service and used as a detention centre and prison, with its main function as a young offenders institution, remand centre and a deportee prison, before becoming a category D men’s resettlement prison in 1992.

The site closed in September 2011 as part of a wider-ranging cost saving plan by the Ministry of Justice.

In 2013, the Latchmere site was sold to Berkeley Homes, which has submitted plans to both Kingston and Richmond Councils to develop the land into housing with community facilities.

Berkeley Homes has two ideas for the site - 60 family houses or 55 family houses and 29 new apartments alongside seven apartments within the restored Latchmere House.

Beginning our tour through a side door, we were greeted by darkness and a chill in the air as we saw outlines of grand fireplaces in the main Latchmere building.

Using a torch, Percy Mullany, senior land manager at Berkeley Homes, explained where partitions will be put up to create individual apartments within the grand building.

As we continued to walk through the darkness, we ascended an old, creaky staircase and passed abandoned furniture.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

The air smelt musky and as we continued to walk around the second floor of the building, we passed more furniture including a desk with open drawers and a safe.

Mr Mullany said: "It was used as the office and administration building and is where the governor’s office was. It was not used as part of the prison up until very recently."

Taking in what is before us, we notice swarms of flies buzzing against the windows and hastily retreat back to the darkness downstairs before exiting the building.

Mr Mullany said the site was somewhat eerie in the dark of night, explaining he has visited in the early hours of the morning to turn off the building’s alarm - an experience he hopes not to repeat.

Walking towards the area of the site within the Kingston borough, tall metal gates stood before us - typical imagery of what one might expect to find on the site of a former prison.

Stepping over tall weeds, cracked paving and steering clear of some dead pigeons, we were taken to cell block B.

Before entering the block, we were warned pigeons have made themselves at home in the building and may make an appearance as we explore the block.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

Mr Mullany said: "They are a pest but we have been trying to seal up all the windows so they can’t get in. The pigeon poo can be quite dangerous but we will make sure there is a good clean up operation."

Without a pigeon in sight, we explored the cell block and opened the heavy metal gates used to secure the block and keep former prisoners in their cell wings.

The cell block is exactly as expected - foreboding and moody. At its full capacity, Latchmere House was able to house up to 210 prisoners If both councils agree to the proposals, the cell blocks will be demolished to make room for housing but the exterior of Latchmere House block on Richmond’s land will remain.

Mr Mullany explained: "Latchmere House is in a bit of a sorry state and needs a bit of structural work, so it could take 18 months to two years. But the new homes shouldn’t take too long to build."

The unique character of the site and its location were two of the key factors which drew Berkeley Homes to purchase the site.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

Mr Mullany said: "You don’t get sites like that because they don’t come up. It is right next to Richmond Park and Kingston has some fantastic schools.

"It is a real mix of trying to live in a rural part of London and then being able to jump on a train into the city really quickly."

Berkeley Homes hope its proposals will be given the green light by both councils and hope to commence building works in spring 2015.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

Richmond and Twickenham Times: