Why Ordnance Survey is dropping gory Jack the Ripper guide to Whitechapel Murders

Victorian press illustrating the 1888 Whitechapel Murders

The Victorian press illustrating the 1888 Whitechapel Murders three years later - Credit: Museum of London Docklands

An official Jack the Ripper tourist route guide through Whitechapel has been taken off the Ordnance Survey library of maps. 

The organisation starts the new year removing from its library the three-mile Guts and Garters in the Ripper’s East End guide that links the sites of the unsolved 1888 Whitechapel Murders. 

Ordnance Survey's guide to Jack the Ripper murders

Ordnance Survey's guide to Jack the Ripper murders has been dropped - Credit: Museum of London Docklands

It follows protests over the way tours and Ripper conventions glorify a serial killer who escaped justice, rather than delve into the lives of his innocent victims. 

The move to withdraw the guide is backed by Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs, who led protests with the Bishop of Stepney in 2015 against a Ripper museum opening in Cable Street that turned the killings into a tourist attraction. 

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs in 2015 protest against Ripper museum

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs (left), Bishop of Stepney Adrian Newman and Interfaith Forum's Alan Green at the 2015 protest against a Ripper museum - Credit: LBTH

The museum faced demos on its doorstep saying it was “exploiting the murder of women”. 

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Tower Hamlets Interfaith forum’s Alan Green said at the time: “The fascination with Jack the Ripper is disturbing and distasteful, looking for commercial success on the salaciousness of a serial killer.” 

Protest against glorifying Jack the Ripper's killings

Protest in 2015 against glorifying Jack the Ripper's killing of women - Credit: Mike Brooke

But removing the Guts and Garters guide with details of the victims’ mutilated corpses won’t stop genuine research by authors and criminology students. 

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The Spitalfields Society acknowledges the killings remain part of Whitechapel’s history, however gruesome, and won’t go away just because public mood may have changed. Guided tours are also likely to return when times are normal.

It was broadcaster Sir Christopher Freyling’s definitive 1988 documentary on the Whitechapel Murders centenary which began a change in public attitudes. 

Historian Donald Rumblelow taking tourists on guided tour of Jack the Ripper sites

Historian Donald Rumblelow taking tourists on a guided tour of Jack the Ripper sites in Whitechapel in 2013 - Credit: Mike Brooke

He looked at the lives of the victims, who had drifted into part-time prostitution through sheer poverty and hunger, rather than trying to fathom who the Ripper was a century on.  

Scotland Yard attributed five victims to Jack the Ripper—but some historians say he killed up to nine women, starting with Martha Tabram in Gunthorpe Street on August 7, 1888.

The others were Mary Nichols in Bucks Row on August 31, Annie Chapman in Hanbury Street on September 8, Elizabeth Stride in Berner Street and Catharine Eddowes in Mitre Square both on September 30, and finally Mary Kelly in Dorset Street on November 9.  

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