George Yard

Jack The Ripper Photos

I have always enjoyed rummaging through archives and collections of old photographs that depict the streets of Jack the Ripper’s London as they were. Mostly, you uncover photographs that generations of researchers have uncovered before you and which have appeared in countless books on the Whitechapel murders over the years.

Your Moment of Discovery

But, every so often, you stumble upon a photograph of a locations that looks vaguely familiar and you dredge your memory, wondering where it is.

Gradually your eyes focus on certain features of the location or of the landmarks around it. And then comes that eureka moment when it suddenly dawns on you exactly where it is that you are looking at and the rest, as they say, is, quite literally, history.

The Photo of George Yard

One such photograph that I came across in 2006 was of George Yard, the dark, narrow and somewhat sinister thoroughfare that we head into shortly after setting out on our Jack the Ripper walking tour.

georgeyard-full

I uncovered the photograph in 2006, whilst combing the archives for pictures to include in my book Uncovering Jack The Ripper’s London. I had combed through the archives and had gazed upon the originals of, if you’ll pardon the expression, the usual suspects, when I noticed a cracked and creased image of a location that had a certain familiarity about it.

Difficult to Identify

Now, I have to confess, identifying it as George Yard wasn’t that difficult since the caption on the reverse side read “George Yard, 1890.” But, one of the things I like to do, when seeking out new photographic records of the East End at the time of the Jack the Ripper murders, is see if I can identify a location from the clues contained within it.

Sadly, in this case, I couldn’t as it was evidently taken some way along George Yard. So I turned the photo over and saw the caption and froze. This was a black and white image of the narrow thoroughfare where, in early August 1888, Whitechapel Murders victim Martha Tabram had been slain.

A Suspect Worked Here

Furthermore, when the photograph was taken, 1890, there is every likelihood that ripper suspect George Chapman was working in the basement of the White Hart Pub, which still stands at the southern end of the thoroughfare.

Indeed, I have to confess that I did let my imagination wander a little as I wondered could he be the man whose silhouette is visible behind the cart that can be seen blocking George Yard? Of course, that was nothing more than wild speculation but, hey, this was my find and I felt entitled to dream on!

The photograph duly appeared in my book, Uncovering Jack the Ripper’s London, and is one of the images that is shown round on our Jack the Ripper Guided Tour of the murder sites themselves.

Now Gunthorpe Street

But, for me I’ll never forget the thrill of turning over that creased, crumpled and, in places, torn, old photography and seeing those words and numbers that spelt out a grail moment for me, George Yard 1890.

As with quite of few of the murder sites George Yard’s ┬áname has been changed and it is now Gunthorpe Street. But it still has a creepy atmosphere about it, and stepping under the arch that leads into it from Whitechapel High Street at its southern end, you get the genuine feel that you are passing from the 21st century and back into the 19th century.