Let’s Go Slumming

If you’re a visitor to London today you might be planning your sightseeing tours and be looking forward to exploring many of the wonderful locations that this city has to offer and which were showcased by the recent 2012 Olympics.

High on your list might be The Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. Of course we’d be delighted if our Jack the Ripper Tour were to also find its way onto your list of things to do in London. After all it is one of the capitals most popular tours.

But how would you feel if you were to be offered the opportunity to venture into the slums of London and view poverty and destitution first hand, albeit from the safety of a coach?

Well in 1888 this was a popular form of tourism. Seemingly respectable middle class Londoners and well-heeled visitors a like thought nothing of boarding horse-drawn omnibuses and heading out to see for themselves the horrors and the indignities in what some elements of the press had soon dubbed “Slumland.”

Today, thanks largely to the Jack the Ripper murders, we tend to only remember the slums of the East End, largely because this was the district that the press focussed upon as a result of the crimes. But London had lots of slum areas and thus those long ago destitution tourists has much to keep them occupied as they toured the most down at heel neighbourhoods and, to quote one popular periodical of the time, were delighted by the fact that “the horrors they brushed by threw into more brilliant relief the daintinesses of their own fair surroundings…”