To many the only crimes of note in East London are those committed by Jack the Ripper in the 19th century, and the Kray twins in the 20th century. Whereas both of these are indeed horrific, and hold a morbid fascination for some, there is very much more to be discovered over the 250 year period covering 1718 to 1967.
The survey of murder presented here starts with Jack Ketch, a hangman, who was himself hanged for murder, and continues with the infamous highwayman, Dick Turpin, who was anything but the romantic figure so often portrayed in literature. There are 2 cases of murder associated with the practice of ‘Burking’, and then there are the most repulsive Ratcliffe Highway murders which in many ways exceed those of Jack the Ripper for sheer brutality, especially so since one of the victims was a 14-week old baby.
Also covered is the death of Thomas Briggs, who having being thrown from a moving train became the first railway murder victim in the country. That case included an international manhunt and was to result in the installation of communication cords on trains. Then there is what became known as the Houndsditch Murders and the Siege of Sidney Street involving a failed burglary of a jewellery shop by anarchists. On that night in 1910, 3 policemen were to lose their life making this event the largest multiple murder of British police officers in peacetime.
In total 20 cases are examined, many of them multiple killings, and each illustrating a different aspect of murder be it the motive, means, or opportunity. Special attention is paid to the activities of the Kray twins with a walking tour of some of the locations that still remain that are most associated with them and their criminal empire.
With so many murders to investigate and explore, East London has never seemed so bloody!