For much of my time taking Jack the Ripper tours around the East End of London, I’ve been able to lead people along the line of the former Dorset Street and stand by a gap in the kerb stones that marked the approximate site of the former arched entrance to Miller’s Court.
MEMORIES OF THE PAST
It really was a chilling experience and, I must say, it was quite eerie to stand there and picture Mary Kelly leading the man who would become her murderer through that arch and into her room where she was murdered.
I would often wonder what conversation they had as the headed through the arch. Was a slightly tipsy Mary Kelly chatting amiably away to the sullen, silent stranger? Or was he chatting happily away with her, hiding his true murderous intention behind a mask of geniality?
I used to also picture Thomas Bowyer heading through that arch, sent by Mary Kelly’s landlord, John McCarthy, to collect the rent that Mary Kelly owed. What was he thinking as he headed into the arch, blissfully unaware of the horrendous sight that he was about to encounter?
I would picture him racing back along the passage, ashen-faced, as he tried to comprehend the sheer horror of what he had seen on the bed. We have his words to John McCarthy as he burst into his shop to tell him that he had seen a body on the bed and that there had been a lot of blood. But, how did he feel? What thoughts were racing through his mind in his confused and agitated stated?
ANDREW FIRTH SHOWS WHERE IT WAS
Graphic designer, photographer and ripperologist Andrew Firth has captured some fantastic images of the East End over the years. He has also done a series of photo montages that overlay the modern streets with images of how they were at the time of Jack the Ripper. Here is his overlay of the the buildings that stood on the site of Miller’s Court in 2012 with the entrance as it was at the time of the murder.
IT ALL STARTS TO VANISH
But, in 2013, the area was closed off to us and, over the next two years, bits of it began to disappear.
Then, in July 2015, the whole scale demolition began.
To be honest, what was there – a grubby multi-storey car park and the backs of some nondescript offices – wasn’t any great shakes. But, it was how I had known it since 1982 when I led my first walking tour down there and so, I must confess, I did feel a little saddened by its loss.
IN MEMORY OF DORSET STREET
So, in memory of Dorset Street, or in memory of my memories of what Dorset Street was always like to me, here are a sequence of photographs in which I would like to say, goodbye Dorset Street, and thanks for all the memories.
That’s enough nostalgia for now!