Today I though I’d share a story about the writing of my book Uncovering Jack the Ripper’s London that I often tell on my walking tour around the murder sites.
As I’ve mentioned in several previous blog, the walk begins by passing underneath the arch next to the White Hart pub and into the truly atmospheric Gunthorpe Street which, in 1888, was known as George Yard.
A little way up on the left is this old building, on the upper storey of which the year 1886 is emblazoned across the stone work.
It really is a truly atmospheric building and, to see that year up there on its top section, really does send your mind soaring back to 1888 when this block would have looked down on the comings and goings of the Jack the Ripper saga.
When I was writing the book, I wanted to it contain photographs of Jack the Ripper’s London as it was then and as it is today.
Thus Sean East, a truly talented photographer agreed to take the photographs for the book and, in early 2006, we spent several nights wandering around the area.
Because this building had the year above it, we both agreed it should be in the book.
The problem was that, at the time, there was building work going on opposite so the alley was considerably narrowed by scaffolding.
The, Sean noticed a fire escape opposite and we both agreed it would make the perfect vantage point from which to snap our desired photo.
We duly lugged the equipment up onto the fire escape balcony, set it up and then waited for the moon to appear from behind a bank of cloud and bathe the building in an atmospheric hue.
At which point, in one of the flats that now occupy the old building, a door opened and a man who, quite evidently, had just got out of the shower walked over to the window and, at first oblivious to our presence, proceeded to stand naked by the window and stretch his arms up as if he was exercising!
At which point he noticed two men standing on a balcony opposite with a camera pointing straight at him!
All we could think to do was wave at him, snap our photos and hurry off into the night!