Jack the Ripper museum opening to be boycotted by Tower Hamlets mayor

Tower Hamlets Town Hall and (inset) Mayor Biggs

Tower Hamlets Town Hall and (inset) Mayor Biggs - Credit: Archant

The launch of the controversial new Jack the Ripper museum opening near the Tower of London on Tuesday is being boycotted by the Mayor of Tower Hamlets because he says his local authority was “misled” in the original planning application.

Jack the Ripper 'museum' at 12 Cable Street

Jack the Ripper 'museum' at 12 Cable Street - Credit: Julian Cole

Mayor John Biggs is withdrawing from taking part in the launch of the project intended to be a women’s heritage museum in Cable Street, he said tonight.

His boycott follows a storm of public protest after the East London Advertiser uncovered exclusively earlier this week the museum’s true nature.

“The decision to open a ‘Jack the Ripper’ museum instead of one celebrating the history of women in the East End is extremely disappointing,” an angry Mayor Biggs said.

Whitechapel of the 1888s... High-st corner of Osborn-st

Whitechapel of the 1888s... High-st corner of Osborn-st - Credit: Archant

“It has become clear that the council’s planning department was misled by the applicant.

“I have withdrawn from attending the opening of this museum as I feel the focus has significantly changed.

I will be seeking an explanation from the museum owners as to how this shift in the nature of the museum has come about.”

Whitechapel of the 1888s... High-st corner of Osborn-st

Whitechapel of the 1888s... High-st corner of Osborn-st - Credit: Archant

Planning officers in the council are now to investigate whether the museum signboard in bold 2ft red letters on a black shopfront background with its skull-and-crossbones emblem contravenes the planning approval conditions, it has emerged.

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Further enforcement may also be taken concerning the opening hours listed on the museum’s website “which are not in line with the original planning application”, the mayor added.

The museum’s theme is the blood-curdling Whitechapel Murders of 1888 when the Ripper stalked the East End butchering prostitutes in a three-month reign of terror in late summer.

George Yard (today's Gunthorpe St) where Martha Tabram was attacked... first of the 1888 Whitechapel

George Yard (today's Gunthorpe St) where Martha Tabram was attacked... first of the 1888 Whitechapel Murders - Credit: Archant

Yet there was no mention of Jack the Ripper in the planning application to the council by former Googgle website diversity director Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe.

It was to be “a Museum of Women’s History”, according to his application document submitted in July 2014, which would recognise heroines who have shaped social history like the suffragettes and those who led the matchmakers’ industrial strike, analysing “their social, political and domestic experience”.

Meanwhile, members of the Class War protest organisation plan to picket on Wednesday evening outside the museum, the day after its opening.

Protester Lisa Mckenzie, an LSE sociology lecturer who lives in the neighbourhood, told the Advertiser: “I have just seen your article about the Ripper Museum and I’m shocked. It’s just out of order.

“We are planning to picket this museum with at least 200 people to show the strength of feeling in the East End.”

Jack the Ripper could have killed as many as 11 women, according to some theorists.

The five ‘known’ victims of 1888 are only half the picture, recorded officially by Scotland Yard as being carried out by the Ripper—Polly Nichols, Annie Chapman, Lizzie Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Kelly, all between August and October that year.

But 11 recorded in Home Office files were linked to the Ripper over three years.

Documents on victims after 1888 were stamped ‘Whitechapel’ by police investigators of the day. It was more to allay public panic that prompted the authorities at the time to formally ascribe just five killings to Jack the Ripper.

But just before the five was the slaying of Martha Tabram, stabbed 39 times on Bank Holiday August 6 in George Yard Buildings, three weeks before Polly Nichols.

A seventh victim that year was Rose Mylett in Poplar, three miles from the Whitechapel murders—so she never made the headlines as one of the Ripper’s victims.

There were three more brutal slayings between 1889 and 1891 that some social historians say could have been down to the Ripper, all recorded in the ‘Whitechapel Murders’ file at the Home Office.

The coming of the telegraph made the Whitechapel Murders the first mass-reported crime around the world. The interest was global.

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