Jack The Ripper Walks. The first murder.
The Jack the Ripper Tour. The first section of this fascinating Walk.
Starting Point: Whitechapel Underground Station.
I would not suggest doing this Jack the Ripper tour alone after dark. It is best done in a group of at least four people. Remember, please keep a careful eye on your belongings at all time and ensure that you act with your own personal safety in mind. Jack the Ripper is not the only person of criminal intent to be lurking in this area. Please enjoy this Jack the Ripper Walk but please be extremely careful. Be aware of your surroundings throughout your entire Jack the Ripper Tour.
Jack The Ripper Tours.
Leave Whitechapel Underground Station and turn right along Whitechapel Road. A little way past the Grave Maurice Pub turn right into the narrow, arched and wonderfully evocative sinister little passageway called Wood’s Buildings that gives the appearance of having changed little since Jack the Ripper’s day.
Keep ahead and over the railway bridge.
Upon arrival at the massive building that was once a board school, proceed counter-clockwise around it into Durward Street.
Go past the school and pause in the little parking area on the right, just before the line of modern houses. It was in a gateway that used to stand here that the first of the Jack the Ripper murders occurred.
The First Jack The Ripper Murder.
August 31st 1888
At around 3.40am on August 31st 1888, a carter named Charles Cross was making his way along Bucks Row (as Durward Street was then called), when in a gateway that used to stand here he noticed a bundle lying on the ground. Presuming it to be a tarpaulin, and thinking that it might prove useful, he went to inspect it. But he stopped in his tracks when he saw it was a woman lying on her back, with her skirts pulled up around her waist. Moments later he heard footsteps behind him and turning noticed another man, Robert Paul approaching. Nervously the two men approached the silent form and stooped down to examine her. Cross felt her hands. They were quite cold. Paul meanwhile was leaning over her, trying to detect any sign of breath. He couldn’t. But when he touched her chest he fancied it moved slightly. “I think she’s breathing” he told his companion, “but very little if she is.”
Paul wanted to sit her up, but Cross refused to touch her again. So, agreeing that they had wasted enough time at the scene, the two men attempted to pull down her skirts to cover her decency and went on their way, vowing to tell the first policeman they encountered of their find. But what neither man had noticed in the darkness, was that the woman’s throat had been slashed so savagely that her head had almost been severed from her body.
That discovery was made by PC John Neil as he walked his beat along Bucks Row at approximately 3.45am. He had passed the site thirty minutes earlier and noticed nothing out of the ordinary. This time he found the body, and with the aid of his lantern was able to examine the woman more closely than Paul and Cross had been able to do. He told the subsequent inquest into her death that he noticed "blood oozing from a wound in her throat. She was lying on her back, with her clothes disarranged. I felt her arm, which was quite warm from the joints upwards. Her eyes were wide open. Her bonnet was off and lying at her side, close to the left hand..."
Moments later Neil noticed PC John Thain passing a nearby street, and flashed his lantern at him to attract his attention. "Here's a woman with her throat cut", he called across, "run at once for Dr Llewellyn." As Thain hurried off to fetch the medic, PC Mizen, who had been alerted to the murder by Cross and Paul, came hurrying to the scene. Neil dispatched him to summon an ambulance. Llewellyn arrived soon afterwards and, following a cursory examination, told the officers to "move her to the mortuary. She is dead, and I will make a further examination of her there." The body was duly lifted onto an ambulance and taken away to the mortuary in nearby Old Montague Street. Not long after its arrival there, Inspector Spratley, turned up to take down a description of the dead woman. Lifting her skirts, he discovered something that had somehow managed to elude everyone up until that point. Beneath her blood soaked clothing, a deep gash ran along the woman's abdomen - she had been disemboweled. Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror had begun.
The woman’s name was Mary, or “Polly” Anne Nichols, a forty three year old prostitute who had earlier been ejected from a nearby lodging house because she didn’t have the four pence to pay for a bed. “I’ll soon get my doss money” she had confidently predicted, “see what I jolly bonnet I‘ve got.” That bonnet now lay trampled in a Whitechapel gutter.