Cells in Lewes Prison once dubbed “an abomination in the 21st century” are finally being upgraded.

Hundreds of inmates will be transferred to other prisons whilst the work is carried out on two of the oldest wings at the prison in Brighton Road, Lewes.

F wing was due to be upgraded in 2006 but the plans were shelved because of pressure on prison places.

It is one of the last wings in the prison to be upgraded and currently has about 150 prisoners living in Victorian one-man cells.

It also suffers from rising damp, water penetration and a decaying roof.

F and B wing will now be refurbished under new Ministry of Justice plans.

A planning application to re-roof the wing and insert rooflights has been submitted to Lewes District Council.

The Ministry of Justice said it could not provide a preview of how the new refurbishment will look because of security reasons.

It also refused to reveal how much the build would cost.

A prison service spokesman said: “Two of the oldest wings at HMP Lewes are about to close for refurbishment. The project will last approximately 18 months and result in a temporary reduction in capacity from 723 to 511 prisoners. To enable the work to go ahead over 200 prisoners will steadily be transferred to other prisons.

"Once the project is finished capacity will rise to approximately 750 places. The prison's primary role of serving the courts of Sussex will be unaffected by the work."