|A Ripperologist Article|
|This article originally appeared in Ripperologist No. 7, September 1996. Ripperologist is the most respected Ripper periodical on the market and has garnered our highest recommendation for serious students of the case. For more information, view our Ripperologist page. Our thanks to the editor of Ripperologist for permission to reprint this article.|
Paul Daniel takes us on a guided tour of the East End's thoroughfares
The proliferation of streets carrying the same name in the Whitechapel area of the last century is quite extraordinary (though several had changed their names by 1888) - two White's Rows, two John Streets, two Montague Streets, three Church Streets, three Devonshire Streets, three George Streets, and others, all within a very close proximity to each other, making it very confusing. For instance: it is clear that Liz Stride and Michael Kidney lived in the Devonshire Street that ran southwards from Commercial Road as she had given her address in full to the Swedish Church in 1886, but in which George Street did Mary Kelly live in 1887 when she met Joe Barnett - and was it the same George Street in which Satchell's Lodging House was sited? The confusion is made worse when one realises that two of the George Streets were parallel to each other, and barely three hundred yards apart. But this particular riddle is solved when one discovers that the easterly George Street changed its name to Casson Street on 12th October 1883 - before either Smith or Kelly lived in George Street (and, of course, Joe Barnett does actually state at Kelly's inquest that it was George Street, Commercial Road at which they lived ).
In these notes, I have tried to put forward some lesser known facts: tried to place the streets more firmly in the mental map of the area, and include something of interest for each street mentioned. The first section is devoted to the five main sites of the Whitechapel Murders - whereas the second section includes (hopefully) some interesting things about some of the less important streets connected to the case.
Bucks Row, the site of the murder of Mary Ann "Polly" Nichols, now generally accepted as the first of the Ripper's victims, lay parallel to the Whitechapel Road just behind Whitechapel Underground Station (opened on 6th October 1884, a mere four years before) and led from Brady Street (whose name had been changed from North Street on 7th May 1875) in the east, through to Baker's Row (now Vallance Road) at the west. Originally this narrow road terminated at Thomas Street (later changed to Fulbourne Street) where it became White's Row for the short distance to Baker's Row - -- odd, as there was already a White's Row a mere half mile away, just south of the notorious Dorset Street, and which is still there today. The only registered business in Bucks Row was Miss Louisa Wise, who was a dressmaker at No. 26, presumably working from home. All the residential houses were on the south side of the street, the north being taken up with warehouses, which included Essex Wharf, at this time occupied by James Brown, Son and Blomfield, builders, and James Brown, brickmaker (presumably related). Walter Purkiss, the manager of the Wharf, and his wife, who lived there, heard nothing at the time of Polly Nichols's murder, which was committed directly opposite the wharf by a gateway to a yard beside New Cottage (No. 2) where Mrs Emma Green lived with her family - two sons and a daughter.
The houses of both Bucks Row and Winthrop Street (previously known as Little North Street) have long since been demolished, though it is still possible to see the width of Winthrop Street (about ten feet of actual roadway) as the kerb still survive into 1996, but I fear, not for much longer as there is already a large block of post-modern dwellings, almost completed, which covers the ground between the two streets. The only building that still survives from the 1880s is the Board School at the west end of Winthrop Street, which links that street to Durward Street. It has been completely derelict for many years, but is currently surrounded by scaffolding, and is supposedly being converted into flats and a health centre, presumably to help "gentrify" the area which has been built up during 1996. Bucks Row and White's Row were joined to become Durward Street on 25th October 1892 and Daniel Farson, in his book "Jack the Ripper" (1972) tells a nice story of why this came about: when the respectable residents became disillusioned with living in such a "notorious" street, where the postman's macabre joke of knocking on a door and saying "Number ?? Killer's Row, I believe" became to much, they finally petitioned for the name to be changed - - - it was!
29 Hanbury Street:
The site of the second of the Ripper's murders, that of Annie Chapman. Hanbury Street was, and is, also parallel to Whitechapel Road but further north and more to the west. It started just a few yards up Baker's Row from Durward Street's west end, and travelled through to terminate at Commercial Street, just a little north of Hawksmoor's Christ Church, Spitalfields. No. 29 stood on the northern side of what was previously Brown's Lane, which ran from Commercial Street to Brick Lane, where it changed its name to Montague Street. It then became Preston Street and again for the rest of the distance to Baker's Row it was known as Church Street - odd, again, as the other Church Street (now renamed Fournier Street) beside Christ Church, was so close. These four streets were amalgamated into Hanbury Street on 31st March 1876. At No. 23, the Black Swan pub was managed by a certain Thomas David Roberts, and at No. 23A, reached through a passage to the left of the pub, were Joseph and Thomas Bayley, who were case packers - maybe they used cases made by Amelia Richardson, listed in the Post Office Street Directory as a packing-case maker of 29 Hanbury Street.... The site of these houses is now covered by a large and particularly ugly modern block owned by Truman's Brewery, and built in the early 1970s. On 14th October 1896 a certain Robert Winthrop (a strange coincidence here!) was born in this street. Although actually starting out in life with the name Chaim Reuben Weintrop, he eventually became the much-loved comedian, singer and actor Bud Flanagan, partner of Chesney Allen and member of the famous Crazy Gang
This was situated in the Parish of St. George In the East and renamed Henriques Street in tribute to Basil Henriques, OBE (1948) who died on 2nd December 1961, and was founder of the Bernhard Baron Oxford and St. George Settlement, a youth club for lads in the area which he opened on 3rd March 1914, when he was 24. The street leads southwards from Commercial Road, not far east of its junction with Whitechapel Road, and was named Berner Street on 1st May 1868, being an amalgamation of Upper Berner Street, Lower Berner Street, and Batty Buildings. In the 1880s this street was regarded as "respectable" and was inhabited by people who worked as dock labourers, carmen, shoe-makers - there were also several tailors.
There was a Public House called the George IV at No. 68, on the corner of Boyd Street, which was managed by Edmund Farrow, and the Nelson Beer House, run by Louis Hagens at No. 46, was three doors away from the murder site, on the corner of Fairclough Street. Dotted down this residential street were a few retailers such as Edwin Sumner at No. 2, just in from Commercial Road, with his greengrocer's shop, and down the other end of the street at No. 74, Jacob Lubin ran another grocer's store on the corner of Everard Street. Henry Norris, at No. 48, opposite the Nelson, was a chandler, while the bakery on the corner of Boyd Street - No. 70 - was run by Louis Friedman. Right down at the southern end, the last building housed the chemist's shop run by John Simpkin. Strangely, all these stores were on the western side of the street, which was also the side where the Ripper murdered his presumed third victim, Long Liz Stride. Her throat was deeply cut, but she was not otherwise mutilated, and because of this it is generally regarded that the Ripper was interrupted in his work....
The actual site of the murder was inside a gateway leading to Dutfield's Yard, between the third and fourth houses from the corner where the Nelson stood. The building on the north side of the yard (No. 40) housed the International Working Mens Educational Club - a high-flown name for what was basically a well-known, and locally disliked, radical hangout! There were many witnesses called to testify from this street: from No. 14 - Mrs Rosenfield and, possibly, her sister, Mrs Eva Harstein (though she may have lived in Dutfield's Yard itself); No. 28 - Abraham Ashbrigh (or Heahbury as reported in the papers) (17); No. 30 - Charles Letchford (22); No. 38 - Mrs Fanny Mortimer (48); No. 38 - Barnett Kentorrich; No. 44 - Matthew Packer (59), the general dealer who allegedly sold grapes to Long Liz sometime before her murder; and at No. 64 - William Marshall (47).
This is only known as such because of the main business carried on there by Arthur Dutfield, who was a cart and van manufacturer. The people who actually lived in the yard were listed in the 1891 census as living at 40 Berner Street (In Stable Yard). This house, although listing several residents (whether they were living there permanently is not clear). Was the headquarters of the I.W.M.E.C. - as noted above.
This was the site of the fourth in the Ripper's acknowledged series of five murders. This time it was the turn of Catherine Eddowes, and it is generally assumed that it was in total frustration at having been interrupted at the Berner Street site that the Ripper struck again so soon afterwards - a mere three-quarters of an hour later. Mitre Square was the only murder site not within the jurisdiction of the Whitechapel CID, as it stood inside the boundaries of the City of London, and this led to more complications of delegation as the case was suddenly open to a whole new section of the police force. Mitre Square was a small enclosed area between Mitre Square on the west and Duke Street to the east, and could only be reach by three alleys - Church Passage, leading from Duke Street, an unnamed passage leading northwards into St. James's Place and a twenty-five foot roadway leading in from Mitre Street itself. The square was mainly surrounded by warehouses: between Church Passage and the unnamed passage, the north-eastern corner was covered by a large block owned by tea and coffee merchants Heseltine, Kearley and Tonge, then sandwiched between another Kearley and Tonge warehouse and a large block occupied by Walter Williams and Co. on the corner of Mitre Street. Two old houses remained from an earlier era, one of which (No. 3) was occupied by PC Richard Pearce (serving with the City of London Police Force) and his family. After the entrance from Mitre Street, there was a row of four houses - all empty, though picture-frame maker C. Taylor & Co. had business premises at No.8/9 - No. 9 being on the corner leading into Mitre Square. A small passageway and yard separated the backs of these houses from the last large warehouse in the square belonging to Horner and Co. and it was in the corner behind the house next to Mr Taylor - No. 8 Mitre Street - that Catherine Eddowes's body was found by PC Edward Watkins. The square is still in place today, but all the surrounding buildings have been rebuilt in the last thirty, or so, years, and it is now a relatively ugly, but peaceful, backwater where office workers eat their luncheon sandwiches on sunny days, some sitting on the edge of the bed of flowers that now stands where Mr Taylor once framed his pictures
13 Miller's Court:
The last site. And the only indoor site. Miller's Court was a small enclosed area surrounded by small, mean houses, and with no other exit but the very narrow passageway leading between Nos 26 and 27 (owned by John McCarthy) into the north side of Dorset Street, a narrow, sordid and dangerous back street exiting into the west side of Commercial Street, almost opposite the notorious Fashion Street. it was in this small room, partitioned off from the front of No. 26 and designated No. 13, and which was only accessible through a door on the right-hand side of the passage, that Mary Jane Kelly became the last victim of Jack the Ripper in his most horrific crime, after which he completely disappeared. It is not clear whether John McCarthy (37 in 1888) actually owned No. 27 (although he implies it in his original statement to the police after the discovery of Mary Kelly's body), but he certainly had lived there all through the 1880s with his wife Elizabeth, 36, and children, John Jr, 14, still at school, Margaret, 12 and Elizabeth who was 9. His brother Daniel, lived with them also, and later ran a grocers store in competition with his brother at No. 36 Dorset Street. Over the decade of the 1880s the occupants of No. 26 dwindled from thirteen at the beginning to a mere two at the beginning of the 1890s
Running west to east from Crispin Street to Commercial Street, existing opposite "Itchy Park" (the disused graveyard of Christ Church), this was one of the most notorious and dangerous streets in the Whitechapel/Spitalfields area, where police officers, even in pairs, would only go if absolutely necessary. It was given its name on 22nd November 1867 and was a short, narrow and mean street, which, by the 1880s, was almost entirely taken up with lodging and doss houses - in fact there were only two legitimate businesses listed in the Post Office Street Directory for 1888: Barnett Price had a grocery store at No. 7, while further along the northern side the Blue Coat Boy public house was run by William James Turner at No. 32. It was estimated that on any one night there were no fewer than 1200 men sleeping in the cramped and sordid quarters. The street also seems to be central to the Whitechapel Murders as many people connected to the case lived there or had some other with it. John Stedman has recently identified Crossingham's lodging house as being situated at No. 15, on the south side of the street, right opposite the entrance to Miller's Court and not, as has been previously assumed by most enthusiasts (myself included!), on the eastern corner of Little Paternoster Row at No. 35. Miller's Court led off the north side between Nos 26 and 27, about a third of the way down from the Britannia Beer House on the corner of Commercial Street which was managed at this time by Walter Ringer and his wife, and was consequently known as "The Ringers". At the other end of the street was another hostelry at No. 5 Crispin Street called the Horn of Plenty which several authors have mistaken for the Britannia, and whose proprietor in 1888 was one Christopher Bowen. At this time Public Houses had to be licensed, but beer could be sold anywhere without the need for licensing. There is a tremendous photograph of this pub taken in about 1890 - but no one seems to have discovered it!
The western end of Dorset Street was exactly opposite the Providence Row Night Refuge and Convent which stood at 50 Crispin Street, and is still carrying on its charitable work to this day. The street was renamed Duval Street on 28th June 1904, but if it was changed because of the notoriety brought about by the famous murder of Mary Jane Kelly, the council certainly took their time to do so! In 1928 the northern side of the street was demolished to make room for enlargements to Spitalfields Market, with the southern side being cleared in the 1960s leaving what was once Dorset/Duval Street as merely an unnamed service road beside a multi-storey car park. An ignominious end for a notorious street
A narrow passage passing from Whitechapel High Street to Wentworth Street and next to George Yard on its eastern side (where Martha Tabram was murdered on 7th August 1888). This seems to have been the most salubrious street in this drab area in the mid 1800s, and was dominated by "bad houses". John Hollingshead reports in the first of 10 articles he wrote for the Morning Post, under the overall title of London Horrors, starting on 21st January 1861 (and thereafter daily, except Sunday) that they were "the cleanest looking houses in the district" and that the "windows have tolerably neat green blinds, the doors have brass plates, and inside the houses there is comparative comfort, if not plenty". This relatively high standard was evidently afforded mainly by the custom of farmers' men who supplied the Whitechapel Hay Market twice weekly. At the left-hand side of the entrance to this alley stood the Angel Public House (strangely enough!), whose proprietor was one Henry Burgess in 1888, and on the right, Henry Randell was in residence as a Nosier
This was where Mary Kelly lived for a year or so from 1885 at No. 1 - the house of John (a dock labourer) and Mary McCarthy. It is pretty obvious that the newspapers quoting "Mrs McCarthy" had misheard her name - Carthy being an extremely rare name. Breezer's Hill was a short street of about 80 metres at the west end of Pennington Street and ran northwards uphill to St. George's Street (once the notorious Ratcliffe Highway - today, just The Highway) which itself was a little south of the Swedish Church in Prince's Square where Liz Stride had registered as an unmarried woman on 10th July 1866. Pennington Street ran east-west along London Docks North Quay (it still does) not very far east of The Tower of London and the south side was taken up with drug and cotton warehouses - now News International. The house in which Mary had stayed was greatly overshadowed by the huge bulk of the new wool warehouses built in 1884 which took up the entire western side of the street and housed the company of Gooch and Cousens. At one time there was a pub at each end of this short street - at the top on the eastern corner stood the White Bear at No. 1 St. George Street, where Mary Kelly most certainly would have drunk while Paul Carl Richard Cross was the Landlord in 1885, and at the bottom end, with no number, had been the Red Lion, but this was long demolished by the time Mary lived in Breezer's Hill.
In the mid 1800s this was one of the widest streets in London and was built to facilitate transport to and from the London Docks. Being a major thoroughfare for wagon transportation it was laid with stone tramways on each side of the road going as far as Blackwall. This road is the link between several streets connected to the Whitechapel Murders - most notably Berner Street, where the body of Liz Stride was found. The next street moving eastwards is Batty Street, where another murder was committed - that of Miriam Angel by Israel Lipski in June 1887 at No. 16, and also living along the street at the time of the Whitechapel Murders was Francis Tumblety, the Littlechild suspect, at No. 22. Several hundred yards eastward there were two dismal streets of peripheral interest - Star Street, where Martha Tabram lived with William Turner at a lodging house run by Mrs Bousfield, and right next to that was Devonshire Street where Liz Stride had lived with Michael Kidney. Settles Street ran northwards off this major thoroughfare just opposite Christian Street and was where Liz Stride and a stranger had been mocked by three men as they kissed and cuddled outside the Bricklayers Arms, run by Walter Cook.
A small street leading southwards off Commercial Road several hundred yards east of Berner Street, (a little south of the London Hospital, and almost opposite Sidney Street - itself to become famous with the Siege in 1911) where Liz Stride had lived with Michael Kidney for several years at No. 35 until about five months before her death, when they moved to No. 36 - no reason is known for this move. This street was next to Star Street on the eastern side (where Mrs Bousfield had her lodging house, or perhaps that was in Star Place - it is not clear which). Its name was changed on 29th July 1890 to Winterton Street, and, of course, it no longer exists today - the site of both these streets now being covered by the amazingly horrendous Watney Market.
After taking Star Street as representative of the parish of St. George in the East and describing its squalor at length in his study published as Ragged London in 1861, John Hollingshead says of Devonshire Street that it was "... as full of hunger, dirt and social degradation as Star Street..."
The Census taken on 6th February 1861 notes that "... in this street and in Star Street there are living in 123 houses about 1500 persons, including 300 children, many without shoes or stockings..." The average rent per room for a week was is 9d with the lowest rent in this area being attributed to Friendly Place (regarded as "...low..." inhabitant-wise) whereas the highest recorded was 4s 0d in Sutton Street ("...a few respectable inhabitants and lodgers..."). The poverty in these streets is scarcely believable today and it would hardly have changed in the intervening years till 1888 - life moved considerably slower at that time
This street was originally another North Street, and had its name changed on 26th November 1869. It was outside the Beehive Tavern, standing on the corner of Christian Street, that Diemschutz and Kozebrodski found the horse-keeper called Edward Spooner (not the policeman they were hoping to find!) whom they took back to Dutfield's Yard after the discovery of Liz Stride's body. On the corner of Berner Street, three doors away from the yard, Louis Hagens was the Landlord of the Nelson Beer House, which was numbered 46 Berner Street. This corner building is beautifully shown in the picture (taken on 7th April 1909) published in Melvyn Fairclough's (another coincidence!) book The Ripper and the Royals (1991), as is Matthew Packer's shop next door - though it is hard to picture that as a shop.
Flower and Dean Street:
The few acres that these streets covered were demolished and built over, the new Toynbee Estate being opened in 1984 by Prince Charles. Fashion Street is still a complete street, but only the entrance from Commercial Street still survives to show where Flower and Dean Street once lay, although the name is commemorated in a Flower and Dean Walk. Lolesworth Street (once George Street), has now completely disappeared, though what little is left of Flower and Dean Street is actually now named Lolesworth Close - confusing, yes?! Thrawl Street itself has also completely gone, though the exit into Brick Lane beside what was once the Frying Pan Public House (now Sheraz Restaurant - Balti Cuisine) is still called Thrawl Street. In reality, today's Thrawl Street is a road winding through the new estate. At the entrance from Wentworth Street stands an arch which was originally sited on the Rothschild Buildings in Flower and Dean Street, on which is written: "Erected by the Four Per Cent Industrial Dwellings Company Lmtd - 1886". In The Victorian Underworld by Kellow Chesney there is an excellent description of the initiation, or training, of a "tooler" (pickpocket) by two "kidsmen" who lived with their mistresses, each occupying a complete floor of a house in Flower and Dean Street - their income from this "trade" must have been considerable for the area. The main targets for their attention were wealthy ladies of a certain class who would shop at the fashionable St. Paul's Churchyard, with their voluminous crinolines making it easy to slip a hand into their pockets without it being detected.
Wickham's of Mile End Road:
About halfway between Whitechapel and Stepney Green tube stations on the north side of the Mile End Road stands an interesting edifice, originally built as Wickham's Department Store. Speigeihaiter Brothers, the jewellers at No. 81, refused to sell their lease, so the store was built around the shop with the intention of building over No. 81 at a later date. This never happened, and today one can see the building with this small and bleak house right in the middle of the grandiose department store, looking very forlorn.... Wickham's closed its doors in the 1960s, but the Speigeihaiters (who were Christian Moravians from Germany) stayed on.... (Is there a lesson to be learnt here??)
Star Street was a little over half a mile along Commercial Road and led southwards (parallel to Berner Street) but there seems to be some confusion as to whether Mrs Bousfield lived in Star Street or Star Place, but it was, in fact, Star Place. The history of this street is also a little muddled, and it seems it was originally designated Planet Street, but became Star Street on 23rd June 1865, though this name was abolished on 15th December 1891 when it reverted to Planet Street. Star Street comprised 63 two-up, two-down houses, renting in 1861 for an average of 1s 9d and being home for 252 families. The average room size was 9'5" x 9'5", with the height being a mere 8'5". Along with Devonshire Street, it has long since vanished in the 1960s demolition spree.
John Hollingshead, taking this street as representative of the parish of St. George in the East, describes it in great detail in his Ragged London in 1861. "Its road is black and muddy, half filled with pools of inky water...." He goes on to describe a room which is inhabited by a chimney sweep with two women, an infant and two young children "... playing on the black floor... eating what is literally bread and soot..." Two other rooms held nine dwellers, and two more held eleven each, all in the utmost squalor and poverty. Today this is hard to believe, yet things cannot have improved much in the twenty-five odd years between then and when Martha Tabram and Henry Turner were living in Star Place in 1888....
The Bousfield family rather dominated this short cul-de-sac of just six houses in the 1880s. In 1881 at No. 2 was carman Benjamin Bousfield (32) with his wife Ann, four years his junior, three sons (Benjamin Jr, 11, William, 4, and Thomas, 2 and his nine-year-old daughter, Ann. Then just along at No. 4 was William Bousfield, a chopper of firewood, with his wife Mary, with their namesake daughter at five, and one year old son James. The street was a small alley running east/west at the bottom of Star Street itself, and it is more than likely that Martha Tabram and William Turner would have drunk at The Star while living with the Bousfields in 1888, being their nearest local, at No. 2 Morris Street on the corner of Star Place, and managed at this time by William Harris. They very probably knew and drank with Liz Stride and Michael Kidney who lived for several years in Devonshire Street (the next street, parallel to Star Street on the eastern side).
By 1891 there were no Bousfields at No. 2, but another branch were installed at No. 3. Another carman, James, 31, and his wife, Mary (a popular name in this family!), just a year his junior, with their children, Sarah, 7, Charlotte, 2, and newborn Maude, at merely a few months. Martha and William's erstwhile landlords were still at No. 4 with their rapidly expanding brood which now had the additions of Bella, 10, William, 8, Ben, 7, and little George, by now, 5.
The street parallel to Bucks Row where Harrison, Barber & Co Ltd had their horse-slaughtering premises on the south side at Nos 19, 21 and 23, and where Harry Tomkins, James Mumford and Charles Britten (or Brittain) worked, who became the first people of the "general public" to view the body of Polly Nichols after its discovery by Charles A. Cross and Robert Paul at about 3.45 a.m. on 31st August 1888. Previously the street was known as Little North Street but the name was changed to Winthrop Street on 12th October 1883 - just five years before the Ripper commenced his atrocities in the next street, Bucks Row.