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A tale of unromantic misogyny A misguided attempt to re-name the Ten Bells pub as the Jack the Ripper met a chorus of complaint. Even a century, it seems, can’t turn psychopathic misogyny into cosy romance. History Got a story to tell? If you have a tale about East End history, write to John Rennie or email him at johnrennie@gmail.com www.eastlondonhistory.com Murder manual brings crimes of the centuries to your doorstep BY JOHN RENNIE DISTANCElends a frisson to even the most horrible of crimes – and the English love their murders. A crime that horrifies, revolts and saddens can, with the distance of a century or so, acquire a certain romance and mystique. The victims, and all who knew them, are long gone. And so, freed from sympathy or fellow feeling, we allow ourselves to enjoy the sheer depravity of man’s behaviour to his fellow beings. And in the East End, despite the combined efforts of developers, slum clearance and German bombers, there is still much of the fabric of Victorian London around to remind us. In Murder Houses of London, university lecturer Jan Bondeson goes in search of East End addresses that have grisly secrets. Some residents might be in for a nasty shock when they discover their home’s true history. Much has gone of course. Nothing today remains of 9 Grove Road, Stepney, where James Mullins murdered a Mrs Elmsley in 1860. Nor of the house at No 17 Grove (now Golding) Street, where Marks Goodmacher murdered his daughter in 1920. The shop at 96 Green Street, Bethnal Green, where Matilda Moore met her end in 1860, is gone too. 478 Commercial Road is still an address, but the the building where half-brothers Conrad Donovan and Charles Wade slew Matilda Farmer is long gone. And Number 10 Peel Grove, where supposed miser Margaret Marshall was killed by an unknown assailant in 1897, was demolished to build the Bethnal Green Infirmary. Of Tower Hamlets most notorious killer (one might almost say celebrated, such is the industry that has grown up around Jack the Ripper) little remains. A misguided attempt to re-name the Ten Bells pub, possibly the haunt of some of the Whitechapel killer’s victims, as the Jack the Ripper, was reversed a quarter of a century ago amid a chorus of complaint. Even a century, it seems, can’t turn psychopathic misogyny into cosy romance. Just over the road from the pub lies what was once Dorset Street, before that Duval Street, and throughout the 19th and early 20th century, notorious as ‘the worst street in London’ (Fiona Rule has written a book with just that title). Miller’s Court ran off the street by Number 26, and here it was that Mary Jane Kelly was killed and mutilated in that autumn of 1888. Here too, Kate Marshall murdered Eliza Roberts in 1898 (No 19), and young prostitute Kitty Roman was found with her throat cut in 1909 (No 12). In 1901, Mary Ann Austin was found dead, with ten wounds to her abdomen at Crossingham’s Lodgin House, at No 35 Dorset Street – formerly home to another Ripper victim, Annie Chapman. Today, the street is a service road to a multistorey car park. The house where Annie herself was found, at 37 Hanbury Street, actually stood as late as 1970, when it was demolished along with the entire north side of the street to make way for an extension to Truman’s brewery in Brick Lane. Enough tantalising views of what isn’t there… what remains for the ghoulish tourist to see today? Close by the former Dorset Street, No 11 Artillery Lane, formerly Artillery Passage, is still much as it was on May 8, 1868 (albeit with remodelled windows on the upper floor). Today it’s a Chinese restaurant, in those days it was a café, run by George and Emma Grossmith, and employing 18- year-old Alexander McKay (known as John). John was a kitchen boy, but clumsy, (Left) A newspaper depicted the case of Henry Wainwright, who murdered his 19-year-old mistress, Harriet Lane Murder Houses of London by Jan Bondeson (2014), Amberley Publishing The Worst Street in London by Fiona Rule (2008), Ian Allan Ltd Whitechapel Road and another at No 215, close to where Whitechapel Tube now stands. The respectable Henry lived at 40 Tredegar Square –until the business started to fail. If an incompetent businessman, he had a ruthlessly efficient answer to his problems, moving his family out to a cheaper dwelling in Chingford and disposing of the increasingly expensive Harriet. On September 10, 1874, he lured her to No 215, shot her and buried her in a shallow grave beneath the floorboards of the factory. Of course the property had to be sold and the dismembered body moved, and so – exactly a year later – began one of the most incompetent cover-ups ever seen in London crime, as Wainwright fled in a cab across London Bridge. He was apprehended as the cab stopped in Borough High Street, and parcelled-up body parts spilled onto the pavement. Affecting coolness, Wainwright puffed a cigar as he walked to the Newgate gallows on December 22, 1875, sneering at the spectators: “Come to see a man die have you, you curs?” No 145 Whitechapel Road was once site of the Lord Nelson pub, briefly managed by famed East End boxer Daniel Mendoza, but more gruesomely the venue for the September 23, 1903 murder of Martha Jane Hardwick. A heavy-drinking regular in the pub, Jerry Slowe, who had unsuccessfully wooed the young barmaid, was caught in the act and quickly overpowered as he ran away down the Whitechapel Road. He took his punishment without complaint, even annoying the other prisoners in the condemned cells at Pentonville Prison by constantly singing music hall songs. Slowe went to the gallows on November 10, 1903. The building still remains though it long ceased being a pub. In 1907 it became a mission house, and today it’s an Indian garment shop, close by Whitechapel Station (it’s now numbered 299 Whitechapel Road). Look closely though, and you’ll see that this was once a typical, old London pub. There’s more, much more, and though the East End can lay its claim to be the starting point for lurid Victorian murders, Bondeson exhaustively details the grisly history of the rest of London too. So grab the book, grab an A-Z (or actually just tap Googlemaps into your smartphone) and go hunting for London’s gruesome past. Some residents might be in for a nasty shock when they discover their home’s true history.” and the constant butt of Emma’s criticism and jokes. Perhaps a sign of brewing discontent came on the day Mr Grossmith saw him sinking a cleaver into a large piece of meat, muttering the words: “I am practising how to serve those that don’t do as I like!” On that May day, a particular vicious rollocking saw John lay in to his mistress with a rolling pin – she died three days later. John was hanged for the murder at Newgate, on September 8. There is, too, the infamous disposal by Henry Wainwright of his 19-year-old mistress, Harriet Lane. Henry, a successful brush manufacturer, had one factory at 84 17 – 23 FEBRUARY 2014 N E W S F R O M TOWER HAMLETS COUNCIL AND YOUR COMMUNITY 13


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