Over the last week, our roving reporter, Philip Hutchinson, has been taking to the streets of the East End and, armed with nothing more sinister than his trusty smartphone, he has been capturing images of the streets and the places that feature on his Jack the Ripper guided tour around Spitalfields and Whitechapel.
We’ve been adding these to our Facebook page over the last week, but here we bring you a round up of the images that Philip was able to capture for posterity.
THE FRUIT AND WOOL EXCHANGE
First up we have this image – which, in many ways, is a somewhat sad one, that shows the old Fruit and Wool Exchange that, until recently, stood on the site of Miller’s Court. where Mary Kelly was murdered on 9th November 1888.
“The old Fruit and Wool Exchange in Dorset Street has now almost completely disappeared. It is impossible to show people the exact murder spot of Mary Jane Kelly any more. Who knows what will come afterwards? And when? Since this photograph was taken a week ago, even more has been demolished.”
DUKES PLACE ALDGATE
Next Philip turned his probing lens on Dukes Place in Aldgate. Again, a great deal of redevelopment is taking place in the vicinity, albeit it would appear that this might well change the surroundings for the better. The red brick building to the left of the photograph is the Sir John Cass School, behind which is Mitre Square.
“This photograph was taken on October 12th and shows the major redevelopment of the area around Dukes Place in Aldgate, next to Mitre Square where Catherine Eddowes was murdered. The roads are being pulled up and the space is being redeveloped as an open public area. A rare improvement! ”
One thing that often happens on the walking tour is that we come upon a film shoot in progress. As Philip was leading the walk along Toynbee Street on MOnday 12th October 2015, the group were able to catch a glimpse of a film crew in action.
“This photograph was taken on a Monday afternoon in October 2015 looking down Toynbee Street, a road most of our tours walk along. The site of Dorset Street is at the top, and the Goulston Street doorway is not far from the bottom. There was no right of way on Monday as the area was shut for filming. This is something we often see on my walks ”
On Tuesday 13th October 2015, Philip’s walking tour group arrived at the site of 29 Hanbury Street to find that “something” was going on.
“This shows the site where the front of number 29 Hanbury Street once stood. It was in the background of the house that was located here that Annie Chapman was murdered on September 8th 1888. This is what it looked like when we passed it on the tour that I led on the night of 13th October 2015 as it looked on tonight’s tour. The hoardings had gone up earlier that day. About five years ago, many of the bays were removed and faced with glass. Is this happening here too? If it is, it is going to afford a better view of the site at a time when many of the places are hard to view.”
After leaving Hanbury Street, our walking tour wends its way through the wonderfully atmospheric Puma Court, a true throwback to the past, and one in which it doesn’t take a great leap of the imagination to picture what it must have been like at the time of the murders.
“This photograph shows Puma Court looking towards Spitalfields Market on tonight’s tour. Originally named Red Lion Court, most of the tours walk down here. It doesn’t have any real connection to the Ripper case but was here at the time and is highly atmospheric. ”
THE EVER CHANGING EAST END
One of the important things that Philip is doing with his images is capturing the streets of the East End of London in a state of flux.
By the very nature of what the area is, it has always been an area where change has taken place.
Buildings have gone up, been around for a few years, and then have been torn down to be replaced with new buildings.
People like Philip, and all those who have gone before him, have always been on hand to record these locations before, as and after the redevelopment takes place and, in so doing, they provide us with snapshots that future visitors, and residents, alike will be able to use to gain an insight into how the area appeared in the past.
As they say, this time tomorrow, today will be history.