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Dark side of London’s past brought to life by Bishopsgate Institute’s Saturday workshops

PUBLISHED: 07:00 12 September 2015

Bringing London's past back to life... from Bishopsgate Institute's unique archives [photos: Asya Gefter]

Bringing London's past back to life... from Bishopsgate Institute's unique archives [photos: Asya Gefter]

© Asya Gefter

London’s colourful and sometimes dark past has been coming alive with the City’s Bishopsgate Institute drawing on its world-renowned archives feeding its Saturday workshops for the inquisitive.

Delving through archives at Bishopsgate InstituteDelving through archives at Bishopsgate Institute

Press cuttings, maps, photographs, letters and books are being used in its London courses.

The Saturday workshops have been running where you “step back in time” to the East End in 1911 to “meet desperadoes” like the anarchists led by ‘Peter the Painter’, who shot dead three policemen during a jeweller’s raid in Houndsditch that later led to Whitechapel’s infamous ‘Siege of Sidney Street’.

The workshops also aim to unravel unsolved mysteries like the 1888 Whitechapel Murders when Jack the Ripper stalked the streets.

“Even those who have lived here all their lives feel there is more to our city than meets the eye,” an Institute spokesman said. “Material from our archives helps bring the streets and alleys of this notorious area of London back to life.”

The institute also has a unique collection of unpublished memoirs and letters detailing life in London during the Great War of 1914-18, or pamphlets and photographs that unlock the lives of the poor and those who tried to help them.

Other Saturday courses shed light on the buildings of London, with things to discover about well-known historic structures like the Tower of London or The Barbican.

The London programme also looks at best-loved British cinema—the Ealing comedies depicting life such as Passport to Pimlico, The Bells Go Down, The Lavender Hill Mob, Pool of London and The Ladykillers.

Movie fiction they may be—but they reflect an uncanny accuracy of everyday life in this bustling metropolis.

Bishopsgate Institute is at 230 Bishopsgate, opposite Liverpool Street main-line station.


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