WHAT A WHOPPER ! – RIOTOUS EVENTS, MURKY MURDERS AND A SLICE OF HISTORY TOAST FROM WHITECHAPEL & WAPPING
It’s become ingrained in our minds that when we hear the place name ‘Whitechapel’, the first thing that most people think of are the murders that took place here and of course ‘Jack The Ripper’. Of course there is so much more to this area’s history.
Wapping on the other hand for some will conjure up images of a slighter note when we remember the fictional character played by actor Warren Mitchell in character as Alf Garnett. The racist, homophobic, sexist and non community minded citizen of this part of town. Wapping also became synonymous with so much more.
Both areas, fascinatingly rich in positive & negative histories, grew up in the 1600’s when London started to spill out of the city walls. The ‘White Chapel’ was St Mary Matfelon, painted white in medieval days and Wapping probably derives from an old Saxon name of the landowners, but interestingly may have given its name to one of the world’s largest fast food chains prized burger.
The walk will start directly above the world’s first tunnel under a river, in Brunel’s tunnel now used by the Overground train system. An engineering masterpiece which was not without its problem when building. We’ll walk back even further in time and learn of 400 years of execution dock, the last place many a pirate saw on these shores before being carted off to the great Jolly Roger in the sky.
Moving north and away from the river, I’ll will tell you about ‘Fortress Wapping’, no not an old Roman Castle but Rupert Murdoch’s News International print works, that caused riots, strikes and made its own headline for many weeks. Staying on the social disgruntlement tip, we’ll also hear about when the East End rightfully stood up to Oswald Mosley’s Fascist Blackshirts and ran them out of town, with one of their own jackboots up their racist aris !
Unfortunately due to social deprivation, often comes violence. Wapping & Whitechapel have seen this all too often, most famously with our old friend Jack in Whitechapel, and not so well known down in Wapping nearly a century earlier in the Ratcliffe Highway murders. Truly horrific and violent attacks that shook the country.
Without going into too much here, the walk will take in the origins of the most famous bell in the world, a local workhouse now a hotel, and a story of a young Winston Churchill playing a political card down in Sydney street in the infamous siege. Among other tales heard on the walk will be the formation of the Salvation Army by William Booth and hear of his ‘poverty map’, and another burgeoning army in the Bolsheviks who held meetings above Whitechapel tube (the only station in London to have the Overground travelling beneath the Underground!).
So join Ade on a walk around these fascinating places, and let him pass on his passion for the history of the area, and how it relates to today’s ever changing East End.
Take a stroll with Ade, a qualified London Borough Guide
‘Enthusing the enthusiastic’