The Ever changing East End

One of the most intriguing things about our Jack the Ripper tour is the fact that we start our tour at the epicentre of the area where the Whitechapel Murders occurred.

This has two benefits.

First off, it gives those who join our expert guides the opportunity to get a true feel for the layout of the area in which the crimes took place.

Secondly, it makes it possible for us to follow a chronological route that starts with the first of the Whitechapel Murders, that of Emma Smith in April 1888, and then enables us to take our clients on a breathtaking journey that leads them step by step through the so-called autumn of terror so that they can, effectively, see the horror as it unfolded.

However, London is a modern city that is ever developing and changing. 

This is particularly so of the East End where what were once slum dwellings are now sought after properties that can change hands, and ownership, for northwards of a million pounds.

As a result, the streets of the East End, and in particular the streets through which our Jack the Ripper guided walking tour wends its wicked way, have, over the last few years, seen an awful lot of demolition and rebuilding. 

Modern office blocks are springing up on sites which, until just a few years ago, were derelict bomb craters that were left over from the Second World War.

Meanwhile, other locations that, three or four years ago, were still very atmospheric and reminiscent of the age of the ripper, are gradually being bought up and closed down to us.

A view looking along the former Dorset Street as it appears in 2012.
Dorset Street 2012

A good example of this is the tiny little service road that squeezes down the side of the White’s Row Car Park. The car park itself faces the site where, on 9th November 1888, Mary Kelly, Jack the Ripper’s final victim, was murdered.

Now, the whole service road is closed of to all the tours, and thus it is impossible to get clients up close to the site where history’s most infamous killing spree drew to its gruesome conclusion.

Thankfully, we can still get close enough to give those who participate in our walks  a good idea of what the street was like.

And, because we have a unique collection of photographs that show the Dorset Street (the name by which it was known in 1888) at the time of the Mary Kelly Murder, our clients get the opportunity to peer back in time.

In 2012, when it was announced that the street itself was going to close, I climbed the stairs to the top floor of the White’ Row Car Park and snapped a photo of the view along  the former Dorset Street before it actually disappeared.

This is just one of our records of the streets of the East End of London, and of a Jack the Ripper murder site in particular, that has been added to our archive of images of ripperland.

In the coming weeks, and months, we’re going to start featuring many more of these, as well as numerous videos, on our website to show you the ever changing face of the East End of London. 

In 1997, for example,  we made our very first documentary on Jack the Ripper and shot a lot of footage, over 10 hours worth to be precise(!) of the sites as they were then.

Little did we realise then that quite a few of these sites would, 16 or so years later, begin to disappear with the result we would find ourselves in position of a unique archive of film footage that no one else has.

But we want to share this footage, so keep returning to our website over the coming months and we’ll show you the many images of Jack the Ripper’s London that we have acquired as the longest running tour to follow in the exact footsteps of the World’s most infamous serial killer.