It is often reported on travel forums that the Jack the Ripper Tour suffers from the fact that nothing remains to give you the idea of what the area was like at the time of the murders. This is emphatically not the case.
Indeed, whereas none of the actual murder sites remain, a great deal has survived to give you a terrific insight into what the area was like at the time of the Jack the Ripper murders. It is still possible to let yourself get well and truly creeped out in Whitechapel.
Take Gunthorpe Street – where our Jack the Ripper Walk begins – for example. This was called George Yard in 1888 and it was where the body of Martha Tabram was discovered in early August 1888 and it’s still as menacing and sinister as it was back then, when Martha would have walked over its cobbles in the company of her murderer.
When we take groups through the arch that leads into Gunthorpe Street they still gasp at the sudden transformation as the busy streets of modern London suddenly, and dramatically, morph into the mean streets of 19TH century London.
Then there are the wonderful old streets off Brick Lane where the buildings and houses have remained, more or less, just as they were in 1888 and so you really do get the feel of what it must have been like to walk through, or even live in, these streets as the Jack the Ripper scare intensified throughout the autumn of 1888.
These streets, time capsules every one of them, are featured on our walking tour of the area and our clients comment on just how great it is to explore them. You can see for yourself what a creepy and atmospheric area it is on our step by step guide to the walk.
So, why do people still insist that nothing has survived and that the streets on the tour are not very atmospheric?
Well, as it happens, they’re not talking about our walk.
It transpires, if you read the forum postings that talk about how lacking in atmosphere people found the route to be that the people who posted the comments had actually joined one of the Jack the Ripper London walks that start from Tower Hill Underground Station, which is why they found their route so disappointing.
The problem with Tower Hill Underground Station as a starting point is that you’re going to spend the first 45 minutes of your Jack the Ripper tour walking through modern, busy, well-lit streets that are lined by modern office blocks. You’re even going to be told about the murders far away from where they actually took place and it’s going to be 40 or more minutes before you actually reach a location that was associated with the Jack the Ripper Murders.
In addition, since the first murder site these tours reach is Mitre Square – where Catherine Eddowes, the fourth of Jack the Ripper’s victims, was murdered – they’re coming to the story when it’s almost finished.
In short, Tower Hill is not a good place to start a Jack the Ripper Walk.
That’s why, in 1992, we moved our starting point from there to Aldgate East Underground Station. By starting here we begin right at the heart of the area where the murders took place. Furthermore, within 20 minutes of setting out, we have seen 6 sites that are directly related to the Whitechapel Murders, several of which have hardly changed since the days of the ripper. In addition, we’ve followed a more chronological route that follows the horror of the murders as it unfolded.
So, if you really want yo get the feel of what the streets were like in 1888, and you want to see buildings that have survived and which played roles in the saga of Jack the Ripper then there’s only one place to start your Jack the Ripper Walking Tour and that’s Aldgate East Underground Station.
The nights are dark now, so the route is brimming with atmosphere. Book yourself onto our walk and prepare to be well and truly creeped out in Whitechapel.