The Tower Hamlets Independent and East End Local Advertiser, on Saturday, 9th May, 1896, broke the story of a series of atrocities that had been carried out in horses in stables in Spitalfields.
Evidently, the newspaper had forgotten all about the Jack the Ripper atrocities of eight years previous, as it referred to this crime as, “one of the most atrocious and barbarous outrages that have ever disgraced that quarter of the metropolis.
The article read:-
HORRIBLE OUTRAGES IN SPITALFIELDS
“Spitalfields was on Saturday morning the scene of one of the most atrocious and barbarous outrages that have ever disgraced that quarter of the metropolis.
About eight o’clock Mr. Isaac Bryan, a greengrocer, of 110, Hanbury-street, went to his stable as usual to attend to his horses.
On opening the door, he was startled to see a great quantity of blood about, and looking for the cause he discovered that a valuable animal was lying on its side with its head in a great pool of blood.
THE POLICE SENT FOR
He at once sent for the police and a veterinary surgeon, who on arrival found that the creature had been horribly treated it’s tongue being cut out close to the roots.
No sign of the removed tongue was to be found, and it is concluded that the miscreant or miscreants concerned in the outrage carried it away.
In the next stall another valuable horse was discovered evidently in great pain, and a little farther on, in a stall tenanted by Mr. Hard, of 4, David’s-terrace. Hunt-street, lay a fine animal – the property of the latter gentleman – dead.
In the last two cases, the veterinary surgeon found that a corrosive poison had been forcibly administered, and the agony of the animals must have been very great.
NO REASON, NO CLUE
No reason can be assigned for these cruel deeds, and whoever performed them forced their way into the stable through a loose grating.
The mysterious part of the business is that the tongue cut from the first horse cannot be found, and it is stated in the neighbourhood that this is the fourth outrage of the kind that has taken place, in each of the other horses tongues being cut out and carried off.
The case is in the hands of Inspector Payne. of Commercial Street Police-station, and with his colleagues he is using every effort to discover the author or authors of this mysterious and brutal crime.”
Some startling developments are expected to take place with reference to this matter.
The outrages seem to have been systematic, and not confined to those that came to light on Saturday.
It appears that the thing had been going on to an alarming extent since the Harlow Steeplechases, which took place about a month ago.
On this occasion, a good many of the residents of Spitalfielde went down in their traps to see the races, and during the day left their horses to be watered in a field attached to an inn.
The horses were supplied with water during the day from a pond which is in the field, and appeared all right at the close of the day.
On the return journey none of them showed any traces of illness, but on being put in their stable they showed evident signs of poisoning.
Veterinary surgeons were in the most cases called in at once, but they failed to do any good, as in nearly every case the horse died in great agony.
THE HORSE SLAUGHTERERS
On the day following the Harlow Steeplechases, Messrs. Harrison, Barber, and Co., the horse slaughterers, had no less than twenty-three dead horses in their yard, the death of the whole of them being the result of drinking poisoned water.
At the time this was considered a pure accident, but since then horses have been dying wholesale amongst the well-to-do tradesmen of Whitechapel and Spitalfields, and it has at last reached such alarming proportions that the aid of the police has been called in.
One greengrocer in Whitechapel has had to buy no leas than four horses in the last month, owing to their being mysteriously poisoned.”
As far as I can tell, the case was never solved, and it remains another unsolved mystery of the East End of London.