AS Ripper Street captivates audiences on BBC 1 on Sunday nights Rachel Reid takes a scary stroll around the East End with a Jack the Ripper tour guide.
The East End of London. Renowned for it’s history and poverty. Narrow streets, cobbled roads, dark alleyways and 19th century buildings continue to line the streets where possible.
The East End was badly affected during World War II bombings but these days, what was salvaged can be found scattered between new or regenerated buildings, trendy vintage shops and cool bars.
Although the modern mask is lifted each time you see the crowds of bobble hat wearing tourists, wrapped up like michelin men, huddling together and staring up at one building or another as a tour guide gives commentary of the historical happenings of Whitechapel.
Dark and sinister memories seem to lurk on every corner, engrained within every brick, buried under every wooden floorboard for this was the location for greatest unsolved murder mystery of the 19th century - Jack the Ripper.
My auntie, cousin and I were meeting our Jack the Ripper tour guide Amy outside the Whitechapel Galleries so we popped to the White Hart pub just a few doors down.
Which is a great little pub, serves cheap Thai food and the drinks prices are cheaper than Wetherspoons (London ones anyway).
This pub was around during the Ripper days and his first victim had her last drink in there before falling prey to the murderer. A sinister and eerie feel started the night off right and we hadn’t even got to the tour.
We proceeded along the narrow streets, stopping at vital points along the route. With a vivid narrative from our guide and the visual stimulation of standing in front of the buildings as they were and still are, I was captivated by the story of this unidentified man.
This was one of the most interesting ‘whodunits?’ of all time and for an hour and a half or so, with the addition of projected slides to help you concoct the correct mental picture of what it was like, I found myself living through those times. A glance at my aunt and cousin and I could see they were as engrossed as I.
We passed the ‘dosshouses’ and were shown gruesome mortuary photographs – just to make sure we were all getting the right picture, which wasn’t a very nice one. But it did cement the severity of this man’s killings.
At the end of the tour and after a big round of applause for the lovely Amy, everyone was chattering excitedly of who they thought the culprit was.
I found the whole experience educational, scary, baffling, exciting, intriguing, funny and (in my best Brummie accent) absolutely brilliant!
I’m now safe at home, with my theory of who “Jack The Ripper’ really was. I’m not going to tell you, you’ll have to reach your own conclusion all I can say is: “thank goodness for modern science and DNA tracking.”
I would recommend this guided tour to anyone wanting to visit London, to join the tour is £9 and they run every night at 7.30pm. For more information visit www.eastendtours.com and www.jacktheripperwalk.com.