An illustration showing the exterior of the Working Lads' Institute.

It was inside the Working Lads Institute in the East End of London that the inquests into the deaths of several of Jack the Ripper’s victims took place. In fact, some of the most dramatic reporting of the murders at the time resulted from revelations that were made in this fascinating building that still exists today.


What happened in the Working Lads Institute in relation to the Jack the Ripper crimes?

It was at the Working Lads Institute in the East End of London that the inquests into the deaths of a number of Ripper victims took place. That included the first victim Mary Ann Nichols. It was also the place where many of the facts we know about the crimes came to light. The inquests were presided over by the coroner Wynne Edwin Baxter and given the gruesome nature of the crimes, much of the information he and other witnesses presented about the murders was startling to say the least.

At some of the inquests, Wynne Baxter struggled to elicit as much as information about the crimes from police officers as he would have liked. They were reluctant to divulge some of the facts their enquiries were bringing to light, which was a source of some frustration for the coroner. So much so in fact that he often appeared to be openly hostile to the police during the inquests.

Where was the Working Lads Institute?

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The Working Lads Institute is located at 137 Whitechapel Road. It’s extremely easy to find as it’s just a few doors down from the exit to Whitechapel tube station. Just turn left as you exit the station and you can’t miss it.    

If you do find yourself in the area of Whitechapel Road then with its bustling markets and diverse art exhibitions, it’s well worth exploring further. Notable attractions include Whitechapel Market, Whitechapel Gallery and a number of pubs, such as the Ten Bells and the Culpeper, which you’ll visit on our Jack the Ripper tour.

What is the Working Lads Institute in the present day?

Today, the building that first opened in 1885 for ‘the betterment of lads’, has been converted into apartments, but its grand façade remains very much intact. In fact, the ‘Working Lads Institute’ name can still be seen high on the building’s gable.  

How has the Working Lads Institute changed since 1888?

A photo of the Working Lads Institute showing it today.

The building was initially created to keep local working lads’ away from the trouble they might find in pubs and music taverns. It provided educational classes and contained a fully equipped gym, a library and a large swimming pool, as well as accommodation for those who were lucky enough to secure a berth behind its walls.

Today, the building has been converted into flats with rents that are considerably higher than the 2 shillings a week London’s working lads once paid.