A Cut Above The Rest

When you join us for our acclaimed Jack the Ripper Walking Tour around the streets and alleyways of the East End of London, you will have the opportunity to, quite literally, unleash your inner detective.

That is because we try and structure our walk as though it is, in fact, a CSI tour of the crime scenes.

We are able to do this because we are the only one of the Jack the Ripper companies to actually have experts as guides.

These are people who have written books on the Jack the Ripper mystery and who are internationally recognised as the go-to experts when it comes to the world’s greatest murder mystery.

As a consequence we are forever getting approached by newspapers and television production companies who want to ask are advice and opinion, or else wanted to interview us.

Last Thursday, for example, I was met a group of international journalists at Whitechapel Station to take them on a date by date tour of the murders.

The reason I was beginning at Whitechapel Station was that Emma Smith, the first name on the generic Whitechapel Murders file, died in the London hospital at 9am on 4th April 1888.  The Royal London Hospital, as it now is, stands on the opposite side of Whitechapel Road from the Station and I was  taking the journalists on a tour of the Whitechapel as opposed to the Jack the Ripper murders.

As with many of the tours I conduct, I made it more of a guided discussion than a guided tour and, as a consequence, we enjoyed a fascinating hour, heading from the station, and in to Buck’s Row (which is now called Durward Street) where the body of Mary Nichols, who, it is generally believed, was the fist of Jack the Ripper’s victims, was discovered at 3.40am on August 31st 1888.

Now, although the actual murder site itself has long since vanished, the old Board School still towers over the site, just as it did in 1888. 

Durward Street where the first Jack the Ripper Murder, that of Mary Nichols, took place on 31st August 1888.
Durward Street and the Old Board School.

Today, Durward Street is a bit of a mess since the Crossrail project has resulted in a huge amount of construction traffic arriving in the area.

But standing on the murder site – in the photo to the right the murder site was underneath the bush on the wall you that you can see on the left after the cars – it didn’t take a great deal of imagination to picture Charles Cross walking along Buck’s Row and finding the body of Mary Nichols in the gateway that then occupied the site.

Since I don’t normally visit this particular site when I do the Jack the Ripper Tour it was interesting to point out just how close the murders were to the City of London, the wealthiest square mile on earth.

In fact, if you look just under the lamp post on the right side of the above photograph, you can make out a black dome in the distance. This is the top of The Gherkin, one of the City of London’s most recent and distinctive structures.

The fact that we could clearly see it from the site on which we were standing enabled me to point out to the journalists the proximity of the poverty-stricken streets of the Victorian East End to the vast wealth of the City.

It’s insights such as this that make walking the streets of Jack the Ripper’s London such a rewarding historical experience. Sure you can zoom past them on a coach tour, but on a walk you’re there on the ground, taking in the surroundings, and you’re able to unleash your inner detective as you begin your own Jack the Ripper CSI.

From that moment on the journalists were hooked on the mystery and I was bombarded with questions about the area and the mystery.

And that is why it’s important to choose wisely when you’re deciding which Jack the Ripper Tour to take.

The majority of guides are out of work actors who are cheap to hire and who have just learnt a script, They have no real knowledge of the case, nor of the history of the East End of London. Ask them a question outside their script and they’ll be stumped.

With our guides you’re in the hands of acknowledged experts who have written books n the subject and who you will have seen on almost every television documentary over the last fifteen years.

Indeed, it could be said that (and please pardon this awful pun!) that are guides are a cut above the rest!