The second part of my travels through darkest Africa led me to Natal and the sites of various Zulu and Boer War battlefields. After doing my bit for Queen and country and visiting Isandhwana and Rorkes Drift, (not a bloody spear in sight Michael!), I came upon a hill (or ‘Kop’) with a distinct connection to the events in Whitechapel just twelve years before its notoriety. The place is Spion Kop,* a hill some 1,500 ft high and overlooking the Tugela River on the approaches to Ladysmith. This was the route taken by the British Commander of Allied forces, Sir Redvers Buller, on his way to relieve the beleaguered inhabitants of said Ladysmith.
This is a piece that appeared in the ‘Sunday Express’ newspaper on 22nd March 1925. It was written by the journalist Mrs. Cecil Chesterton who took it upon herself to tour the East End of the 1920’s to see for herself the quality of life – or lack of it, that the denizens of that neighbourhood endured. I am grateful to the author Nicholas Connell (‘The Man Who Hunted Jack the Ripper’), for finding this article and allowing us to reprint.
Despite the disruption to the centre of London life caused by the 7th July bombings, the committee were half expecting a thin turnout for tonight’s meetings. We were to be proven gloriously wrong. In fact, this would appear to be one of the most well attended meetings ever. New faces were seen – especially Matt (Guildford) and Gary who commandeered a table stage right. Also, Jack the Ripper Forum’s, Tyler Hebblewhite also made a welcome reappearance, as did Alan Hayday. There were many others there too. As the time approached I, yes, I took to the microphone – Andy Aliffe had a sore throat. This gave me the chance to announce our speaker; Alan Sharp and also claim his book; London Correspondence: Jack the Ripper and the Irish Press as one of the top ten books written on the Whitechapel murders. Committee member, Liza Hopkinson would say the same later on as she conducted the question and answers. A blushing Alan did thus take to the stage.