Museum in Cable St about women and suffragettes turns out to be ‘Jack the Ripper’
23:52 28 July 2015
The neighbours thought they were getting a museum in their street celebrating the achievement of heroines down the ages in London’s East End.
But instead, the wraps have come off at a converted shop in Cable Street—less than half-a-mile from the Tower of London—as the Jack the Ripper Museum.
The people of this busy one-way thoroughfare next to the Shadwell railway arches expected a “worthy” project was to open about events like the Suffragettes or the 1888 women matchmakers’ industrial strike.
But instead, they’re getting a commercial venture, ironically, about the 1888 Whitechapel Murders—and are felling a bit miffed.
“I feel offended by this museum of the macabre,” community campaigner Jemima Broadbridge told the East London Advertiser. “The sign outside suggested it would be a gruesome attraction.
“But Cable Street had nothing to do with Jack the Ripper—that was in Whitechapel, not here. It’s misleading to tourists.”
Cable Street has “a glorious history about resisting Mosley’s fascists in 1936,” Jemima points out. They don’t want that “muddled up by Ripper mythology”.
The original planning application to Tower Hamlets Council last summer included pictures of suffragettes and 1970s Asian women campaigning against racist murders around Brick Lane.
The application said: “The museum will recognise and celebrate the women of the East End who have shaped history, telling the story of how they have been instrumental in changing society. It will analyse the social, political and domestic experience from the Victorian period to the present day.”
The planning document cites the closure of Whitechapel’s Women’s Library in Old Castle Street in 2013 and stresses that the “Museum of Women’s History”, as it calls the project, would be “the only dedicated resource in the East End to women’s history”—no mention of Jack the Ripper.
But pop along to 12 Cable Street and the black front shop has 2ft-high letters in red: “Jack the Ripper Museum”, with a skull and crossbones for good measure. Above are two fake Blue Plaques naming the Ripper’s fourth victim, Lizzie Stride, butchered in what is today’s Burner Street off the Commercial Road, and one of the many Ripper suspects, George Chapman.
Jenny Boswell-Jones, who has lived in the area 30 years, said: “This is just exploitation which is historically and totally inaccurate. This is really sordid and against women of the past and completely unacceptable.”
But there’s little residents can do now—the horse has bolted. They just feel misled by last summer’s planning application.
Julian Cole, a documentary film-maker who runs the Cable Street Inn bed-and-breakfast hotel, said: “The change-of-use application a year ago sounded like a worthy idea.
“But they took down the hoarding last week and revealed the shop front of a museum celebrating London’s most notorious murderer of women—it seems like a sick joke.”
Builders and shopfitters have been adding the final touches this week to the converted three-storey Victorian terraced property with its added fourth floor.
The Advertiser approached No 12 earlier today and was told by a ‘minder’ not to photograph the shop—or the constabulary would be summoned.
Fear of Jack the Ripper, it seems, still stalks London’s shadowy East End.