I’d heard about these “jobs” before. Groups of Ripperologists roaming the east end with their cameras and arousing suspicion in the local populace, visiting unsavoury places such as mortuaries, dark alleyways, and of course, murder sites. So, back in January, when Neil “Monty” Bell suggested doing another trip, I knew that I had to get involved.
So it came to pass, that at midday on Saturday 3rd April, that a group of nine of us met outside Aldgate East for a walk that Rob Clack had carefully planned, which took in some of the more obscure Ripper related sites, and also a handful of non-Ripper related ones for good measure.
We headed east, away from the well known streets of Whitechapel and Spitalfields and it wasn’t long before we arrived in Star Place, where Martha Tabram once lodged, (although in 2010 no trace of this remains). Shadwell Place followed shortly afterwards, near to the old Shadwell station, where in 1892 a woman had been stabbed in an attack that the press suggested might have been the work of Jack the Ripper. After admiring the view of Limehouse Cut, we arrived in Rich Street, Limehouse. Rob produced a photograph of murder victim Lilian Hartney who was found lying in a gateway here back in the 1940s. As is well known, the murder sites of Jack the Ripper’s victims have changed enormously since the 1880s, so it was striking to see that in this case, there was a picture of the victim in situ, clearly showing that very little had changed over the past 65 years. The railings and brick walls are the same ones that appear in the picture that Rob showed us.
Next calling point was Chrisp Street, where in the 1880s Elizabeth and John Stride ran their coffee shop. Today the street is a wide road carrying a high volume of traffic, and so probably bears very little in common with the Chrisp Street of the nineteenth century. Before long, we doubled back on ourselves and began to head west again, this time along Poplar High Street, stopping off at the site of Clark’s Yard where Catherine Mylett was murdered in December 1888. As with many places in the east end, the actual spot where she was found is buried under concrete, and as such there is very little to see, but I very much appreciated Rob including this on the walk, as it was the one remaining Whitechapel Murders location I’d not visited up to that point.
Passing the site of the Poplar Workhouse, mentioned in Jack London’s “People of the Abyss”, a number of us were beginning to crave some liquid refreshment and a nice sit down, and so the sight of the Grapes pub on Narrow Street, amongst all the preserved old warehouses was very welcome. Rob, Philip and Neil left the rest of us in the pub, and headed off to Brick Lane for a curry, taking in the site of the Ratcliffe Highway murders, and Breezers Hill where Mary Kelly was said to have lodged.
The group were reunited that evening for the April Whitechapel Society meeting, where strange tales of a game of football in Mitre Square were told. It’s on YouTube, so it must have taken place, albeit with a tennis ball! At the meeting, John Bennett gave an excellent talk on the changing face of Jack the Ripper’s London, which was agreed by many to have been one of the best society talks in ages. It was a fitting end to a very enjoyable day. Already, there’s talk of another London Job, covering more obscure locations in the east end!
Finally, a book of everyone’s photos from the London Job 2010 is in preparation, and will be available for purchase from www.blurb.com in late April, and will be announced here in due course.
You can have a look at some of my photos from the weekend, which I've added to my Flickr "Whitechapel & Spitalfields" album.