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Time Travel Explorer Blog

Mapping Jack the Ripper: 3. Elizabeth Stride and Berner Street

by Matt Brown 11. February 2011 10:59

The third 'canonical' victim of Jack the Ripper, Elizabeth Stride, was found with her throat cut in a yard off Berner Street, south of Commercial Road, on 30 September 1888. The body was discovered still oozing blood - the Ripper had almost been caught in the act.

As with other posts in this series, I won't dwell on the circumstances surrounding her death, as the internet is already full of such accounts. Instead, this post will look at how the area around the site has developed over the centuries, using the Time Travel Explorer app.

 

 

The two earliest views, 1749  and 1799, show the area as undeveloped. Commercial Road, to the north, was not constructed until the early 19th Century, although a similar east-west track (White Horse Lane) is in existence. The murder site sits on the boundary of two parcels of land. In the earlier view, farmland or orchards lay to the north while pasture land is to the south. A few cottages and farm buildings can be found nearby on Church Lane.

 

Stride forward, if you'll excuse the pun, thirty years and we see a very different picture. Commercial Road has been constructed, linking the docks to the City, and with it came countless streets of houses and tenements. For a shocking account of life in these slums at the turn of the 20th Century, I recommend Jack London's The People of the Abyss.

Elizabeth Stride, like most prostitutes, was a denizen of these mean streets and lived in the notorious criminal rookery of Flower and Dean Street, Spitalfields at the time of her death. The place where she met her end, off Berners Street and known as Dutfield's Yard, is indicated by the red dots. The yard is not labelled as such in any of the views, but you can see what a warren of passages and service spaces the area supported. Happy hunting ground for a knife-wielding man of shadows.

Today, Berners Street is known as Henriques Street after philanthropist Basil Henriques. The yard is long gone, although its location was photographed before development. An image of the site today can be found here.

Previously: Annie Chapman, Mary Ann Nichols