Jack the Ripper’s London Then and Now

When I say Jack the Ripper’s London then and now I am talking about when I started the Jack the Ripper Tours in 1982 and the present day 2012.

Next month, June 2012, will be the 30th anniversary of the start of my Jack the Ripper Tour and the area has changed a whole lot since then. In a previous post, I looked how the area from Tower Hill to Brick Lane has changed.

In this post I want to discuss how the area around Whitechapel Station has changed in the last 30 years.

The walks I did in 1982 actually ended at Whitechapel Station in a delightful pub called the Grave Maurice. Looking back on it I’m amazed at the amount of ground I was able to cover in the time allocated for the walking tour.

The last stop that we used to visit on the tour back then was Durward Street, which is where the body of Mary Nichols, the first definite victim of Jack the Ripper, was discovered in the early hours of August 31st 1888.

In 1982 this location looked totally different. Nowadays there is a gym close to where my Jack the Ripper Walk used to finish, and the immediate vicinity  around the murder site itself is currently one huge building site as the Crossrail station is being built opposite where the Mary Nichols murder site used to stand.

Opposite the murder site in 1982 there was a derelict house that was most certainly there in 1888 but which has now been demolished. It really was very creepy and used to add a truly menacing ambiance to the end of the tour.

The one building that has survived is the old Board School that still looms over the murder site, just as it did in 1888 and in 1982.

Durward Street and the Old Board School.

It has no been converted to flats, but in 1982 it was a derelict building that homeless people, who couldn’t get into the nearby Salvation Army Hostel, often used to sleep in. It was forever catching fire, but somehow the structure managed to survive and you can still stand on the murder site, look up at it and picture what it must have been like around here on August 31st 1888 when the body of Jack the Ripper’s first victim was found  close to it.

One intriguing feature of the Board School to have survived is the railing that runs around the roof of the building. This encircled the roof top play ground and was intended to prevent any of the pupils falling from the roof.