Jack the Ripper walk.

Wednesday 9th March 2022

 

                                                                                       Jack the Ripper Walk
Wednesday 9 March 2022

On a sunny but chill evening, 15 trusty stalwarts from the Aldersgate Ward Club met at Whitechapel Tube Station, assembled under the care of our Master, Allan Fallshaw, for an eagerly anticipated Jack the Ripper guided tour.  He was ably assisted in this task by Siobhan Redmond.

While we were waiting, the thought among some of us ran: who is the mystery person who is going to be leading our walk?  We didn't have to wait long for up popped Dr Antony Richards, a Past Master of the AWC, who is an expert on crime history and the author of a number of titles focussing on London's East End.

After a short introduction from Antony on what we had to look forward to, we joined the throng of market traders and home-goers outside on Whitechapel High Street and started the tour.

Antony explained that he was going to follow chronologically the Ripper's grisly undertakings and the deaths of the five women at his hands.  But in contrast to this dark tale, he would also point out to us along the way 'Beacons of Light', the buildings and philanthropic initiatives that had an important part to play in improving the lives of the poor in late Victorian London.  Antony is a fount of knowledge not only on the Ripper but also on many others who had their home in the East End.  In "Through The Keyhole" moments, we found ourselves outside the houses of people such as the Elephant Man, Joseph Merrick, and the modern-day artists Gilbert and George: houses we would otherwise have passed by without a second glance.

Many of the AWC members on the walk had no doubt watched many TV programmes or read many articles and books about Jack the Ripper.  But it was a completely different – and thrilling – experience to walk the actual streets and alleys that he had haunted, and particularly as night fell.  Our route criss-crossed the Whitechapel and Spitalfields area and there were stops at the sites of each of the five murders.  At each one Antony provided comprehensive details about the lives and fates of the victims, supported by chilling newspaper reports and even mortuary photographs.

Sorry to say but half way through the walk, your scribe, suffering from a damaged knee, had to make his apologies and cut and run as he knew he wouldn't be able to make it to the end.  He repaired to the hostelry to await our supper at The Magpie in New Street.  As I ascended to the first floor to rest my weary limbs, I found myself facing Past Master Kevin Kiernan who wasn't able to make the walk but joined us for a glass of wine.  And once the walkers arrived, we enjoyed an excellent supper in good company.

Our thanks to Antony for sharing his knowledge with us and to our Master, Allan, for organising this fascinating event.

Brian Heppell

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