I don't know about you but I adore then and now photographic comparisons. There is a genuine thrill about seeing a location as it is today, and, at the same time, seeing a photograph taken from the same spot and showing that location as it was at a certain point in history. It is, quite literally, like having your vey own time machine and being able to go back to a moment in the past when a photographer set up his camera and caught a frozen moment, in which the men, women and children who just happened to be in the path of the camera's lens found themselves, in a way, immortalised.
A JOURNEY BACK IN TIME
One of the first of our pocket guide books is Edgar's Guide to Jack The Ripper's East End, and in the course of the tour that readers of that book will undertake, there are many comparison photos that enable you to, on the page at least, go back to 1888, the year of the Jack the Ripper murders, and almost experience what it was like to the everyday lives of the folks who you will see in the old photos that are an integral part of the experience - minus, of course, the rickets, the grinding poverty, the obnoxious odours and the thousand other hardships that were the daily lot for many of the people who dwelt in the district.
WHITECHAPEL HIGH STREET THEN AND NOW
Take the following photograph of Whitechapel High Street as an example.
SO MUCH HISTORY
It's an interesting view, and several intriguing locations can be seen.
For example, the light brown building to the far right p the one with the arch - is the Whitechapel Gallery.
To the left of the KFC, is the entrance to a dark and narrow passage. This is, in fact, the entrance to Angel Alley, which in 1888 was notorious as being one of the most crime-ridden enclaves on this stretch of the High Street. You can still step in to it today, and, when you do, you will find that it is still a chilling and sinister place - and one from which the stench of the Victorian era has yet to waft away!
To its left is the former Ye Olde Angel Inn, which was rebuilt in 1900.
Then allow your gaze to move further left where you will see the blue building. This is the White Hart, a pub that has survived the march of time and progress and which still clings jealously to its reputation as a genuine East End boozer.
To its right is the narrow entrance to what is now Gunthorpe Street, but which in 1888 was known as George Yard.
THE MURDER OF MARTHA TABRAM
It was through that very arch that Martha Tabram, who some believe to have been the first victim of Jack the Ripper, went with her murderer in the early hours of Tuesday, 7th August 1888. Her body was found at 5am that morning on the first floor landing of George Yard Buildings, which used to stand at the opposite end of George Yard.
So in this small block, there is so much history to view, history that you might easily miss if you didn't know what you were looking for.
THE SAME SECTION THEN
But it's one thing to read about it on the page, it is another thing altogether to be able to look at it as it was at the time of the Jack the Ripper murders.
But that's what old photographs enable us to do.
So here is that same section of Whitechapel High Street as it would have appeared to the people who lived through the horrors of the Whitechapel murders. The street as it would have looked to Martha Tabram as she walked along it in the company of a man whose evil intent she had no inkling of.
This is just one of the many frozen moments you can enjoy with Edgar's Guide to the East End of Jack The Ripper.
Just look at those people making their ways along the highway of life oblivious to the fact that a hundred and more years in the future, people would be viewing them going about what, to them at least, would have seemed their everyday humdrum existences, and being thrilled at the opportunity to gaze upon them.