Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
with walrus moustaches stare out of the past, along with loungers in greasy cloth caps.
If you go to Whitechapel today on a dark winter evening, it is easy to see how, in a part
of London then lit with gas, and not too much of that, the Houndsditch murderers made
their getaway. At that time, butchers, greengrocers, and grocers, whose shops were open
to the street, had their stock pinched before their eyes by experts in the art of disappear-
ing into the shadows. Sidney Street is more orderly today, and on the site of the siege the
houses have been replaced by flats, but I remember the besieged house clearly, part of a
block which, at the time of the siege, housed poor working-class families, many of Jew-
ish origin. I remember also a local coming out to watch me draw the house and telling me
how he had watched the siege and the smoke coming out of the roof. It is quite incredible
how many people round Sidney Street do remember the siege and the smoke coming out
of the roof. On the opposite side to the new flats, however, the long row of two-storeyed
terraced houses remain intact. They are of the usual East End type of yellow stock brick,
and these certainly witnessed the affair. A modern note is struck by the doors, which are
now painted, Chelsea fashion, in yellows, greens, and blues.
The anarchists, two of whom perished in the Sidney Street siege, had their club in Ju-
bilee Street. In this street lodged Leon Beron, murdered on Clapham Common, 1911, and
so this near slum street (the anarchists were as poverty-stricken as everyone else in the
district in 1911) forms a link between Sidney Street, the Clapham affair, and the shootings
in Houndsditch. Unfortunately, the anarchists' club has gone, but my drawing shows the
street looking exactly as it did when it was the centre of the activity for those shadowy fig-
ures, Beron, Steinie Morrison, and the rest. Jubilee Street, E 1 , has houses of a better type
than those of Sidney Street, and there are some good ornamental balconies which help to
break up the monotony. Above the line of the cornice is a perspective of disproportion-
ate chimney pots, a characteristic feature of the old London working-class streets. In the
centre of the drawing is a dairy, obviously early nineteenth century, with thin wooden pi-
lasters and a deep cornice. The street forms a dimly classically inspired background to the
largely unsolved crimes, but the anarchists, following the example of their club, have dis-
appeared from view, along with the furtive loafers and other flotsam and jetsam, and have
been replaced by cars, mopeds, and prosperous-looking families.
Ashfield Street, round the corner, has a terrace of decaying houses with 'Tudor' drip-
stones over the ground-floor windows, a desolate feature not improved by decaying stucco
streaked with yellow and black. Some of the windows still have their original shutters; a
surprising number of these still remain in the East End. Turning westwards again and on
the Whitechapel Road, the market in Hessel Street is worth inspection for its pronounced
Yiddish flavour. Most of the street and the stalls comprise Kosher butchers, poulterers, and
fish shops, well patronised by the Hagars and Ishmaels of Whitechapel. This brings me
to the illustration of the Grand Palais here . Today the Grand Palais is given over to the
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