It’s 1888 and terror sweeps through an impoverished East London as five women’s lives are taken by a brutal unidentified killer. Fast forward to a chilly evening of the Halloween weekend in 2014, East London is a hub of creative and financial activity, but the infamous killer known as Jack the Ripper remains unidentified. James and I join a tour to find out more behind the area’s murky past….
At Aldgate, we meet our tour guide and hosts of the evening Three Mobile (who provided us with a new iPhone 6 to take spooky snaps). Ken, dressed fittingly in a long green coat giving the look of a detective, takes us to Saint Botolph to give an introduction to the poverty felt in the area towards the end of the 19th century and set the chilling tone of the evening.
In contrast to what you’ll see today where the Gherkin stands proud, Aldgate and the surrounding area was home to the incredibly poor. Shelter for those without a permanent residence cost 4 pence a night and involved sleeping upright on benches (like the image above). Prostitution funded many women’s lives back then but the temptation of cheap gin also left them vulnerable on the streets. So it’s no surprise that Jack the Ripper’s victims were all of this background.
London’s history has been well-maintained in many parts of the area, particularly the spot of the first killing, a quiet alley where you can still see the same kind of giant rats that roamed then (yes, we did spot one the size of a cat! *shudders*). It quickly takes you back in time.
Even on Brick Lane, where curry houses dominate, you can find hints of its darker past. You can’t see it in this picture but Shaad was once a pub called ‘Frying Pan’, and was the place where the first victim was last seen.
But further down more obvious references to the lane’s past can be found.
Away from the bright lights, you’ll return to lamp-lit streets, which on the Halloween weekend adds an extra shiver down the spine on a tour about a serial killer.
You can’t deny that at night these dimly lit streets still hold a hint of a once very poor area. And as each of the five murders is described by the tour guide at the place each body was found, they feel like a fitting scene for a horror movie.
The place close to the fourth murder definitely had an eeriness about it.
Whilst the facts of each murder are described, you’re taken back in time to a place so very different from where you’re standing. A rivalry exists between the City of London Police and the Metropolitan Police. Cameras, known as ‘white magic’, are newly in use and many believed that the last vision of the dead could be captured by this new invention.
It’s also quite unbelievable to think that a building like this, now a residential building, was once the scene where Jack the Ripper left a message.
At the end of the tour, Ken gave us his verdict on the royal connection he thought may have been behind the murders. It definitely got James and I thinking about whether such a conspiracy could be true or what other possibilities are out there.
Hopefully this gives you a flavour of the tour, I’ve avoided going into too much detail as I think part of the fun is getting the story of Jack the Ripper and all the facts about London’s history from a time so long ago but is still talked about today. I’d recommend going at this time of year when the temperatures add to the atmosphere, but I’d definitely make sure you wear layers as it involves being outdoors for about two hours. You can buy tickets and find more information here.
A special thanks goes to Three Mobile for inviting James and I on the tour. I had fun testing out the photographic abilities of a shiny new iPhone 6.
All of the photos taken in this post (excluding the above photo) were taken on the iPhone 6, without flash, or Photoshop editing. Dark photos are always tricky with a mobile but as you can see I definitely think the quality is better and less grainy. It’s so light weight making it easy to carry round compared to my DSLR and the larger screen also helps frame better pictures. The zoom is a step up from the iPhone 4s I currently use, although there’s still some improvement to go. If I’d had more time to play I’d definitely have experimented with the time-lapse and slo-mo video options added to this model which seemed better than the apps out there.
If you’re like me and love new features and functions for mobile photography, more information about the latest iPhone can be found here.
Have you been on a Jack the Ripper Tour? Or have you been on any other tours which take you back in time?
As mentioned this tour was hosted by Three Mobile and I was kindly asked to share my views on the iPhone 6. As someone who loves to do different things in London and enjoys testing new technologies I was more than happy to accept the invite. All opinions are my own.