Villagers and visitors are split over the likely impact
There was a mixed reaction among the population of Princetown, which has had a close relationship with the prison since early days of the settlement, to the news the goal could close within ten years.
Princetown has sat on top of Dartmoor since about 1785, when Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt, Secretary to the Prince of Wales, leased a large area of moorland from the Duchy of Cornwall estate, hoping to convert it into farmland.
He encouraged people to move there to live and suggested a prison be built there. He called the settlement Princetown after the Prince of Wales.
The village is a beacon for hikers, cyclists and other outdoor enthusiasts as well as tourists, some of whom come for the historical connection to the prison.
Sign up NOW for a 6 week training program starting in January 2014 and get a 30% discount!
Start a fresh in 2014 with a Personal Trainer! I come to you and design a program to achieve your goals!!
Terms: Within the Mid-North Devon Region. One Voucher per person.
Contact: 07855 055 682
Valid until: Friday, January 31 2014
Many more come for its location on Dartmoor and it is also home to the High Moorland Visitor Centre, that tells the history of the moors and its settlers.
Those in the village yesterday had differing views over the news about the prison's possible closure.
Karen Lunney, head of administration at Dartmoor Brewery, said: "It is part of the attraction – which you couldn't say for most prisons.
"You often see tourists having their photos taken outside the gates." Iris Jewell, from Plymouth, on a day trip with friends Jean Webber, 80, and Patricia Oram, said: "I wouldn't shut it.
"There are too many prisoners and they haven't got the places to put half of them."
Kirsty Taylor and son Dylan, from Plympton, said: "It wouldn't make much difference. We come for the moors."
Mark Renders, 52, owner of Princetown Stores and Post Office said: "Closure would have quite an impact on us.
"We are quite reliant on it, especially outside the summer."
Mandy Wheeler, barista at the Fox Tor Cafe in Princetown, said the prison was not the main lure for those visiting the cafe, adding: "We get a lot of walkers and cyclists."
David Francis, 71, former Dartmoor Prison Museum curator, said: "I have been here 15 years and the subject of closing the prison has come up many times, and has always been dropped because of the fantastic expense."
Susan Finch, 48, daughter of a former prison officer, said: "It's just in the background as far as I'm concerned."