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Saturday, 27 October, 2001, 13:58 GMT 14:58 UK
Ripper tours spark anger in East End
Heather Graham and Johnny Depp
There are fears From Hell will add to tourist numbers
Tourists following the path of notorious Victorian killer Jack The Ripper through London's East End, are causing present day mayhem for local residents.

Eggs have been thrown at tourists and there is a growing dislike among parts of the community for the "circus" caused by the tours.

Now it is feared a new film about Jack the Ripper, starring Hollywood heart-throb Johnny Depp, will only add to the aggravation.

From Hell, which opened in America at number one in the US box office, is expected to renew interest in Britain's most famous serial killer.

Large numbers

Tours of the Whitechapel and Spitalfields area of the East End have been taken for more than 40 years but the trouble has erupted only recently.

Residents are angry at what some call the "zoo or circus" passing by their homes and the growing numbers who take part.


When people suddenly see about 200 people coming into their street they can feel intimidated

Councillor Ala Uddin, Tower Hamlets council

Eggs have been thrown during tours and two weeks ago a 53-year-old woman was reported to have been shot at with an air rifle and her tour group stoned by youths.

Official tour guides have defended their tradition and say they are sensitive to the feelings of locals.

Councillor Ala Uddin, who represents residents in the Spitalfields ward, which includes part of Whitechapel, said: "I know there are reservations from the community, they say the place is like a zoo or circus with large numbers of people visiting."

"When people suddenly see about 200 people coming into their street they can feel intimidated."

Tours can continue for 12 hours, starting at 0800 in the morning and finishing around 2100 at night.

What also angers residents is the volume of tourists arriving is not matched by their spending in the area, he said.

Tower Hamlets council's policy is to welcome visitors interested in the heritage and history of the area, he said.

"But some residents do not see it as being to their benefit," he said.

Tour guide John Muffty, who owns an official London Tourist Board blue badge for taking tours, was leading a tour when an egg was thrown.

"I suspect it was more like kids than anything else but I do know that there have been complaints in the neighbourhood, mainly about the larger groups that go round.

'Sensitive'

"There is concern that the film is coming out, which will arose more interest, and some residents are not happy about that."

Mr Muffty said numbers on his tours are small and the egg-throwing incident was the first he had experienced.


We are extremely sensitive to the locals and we do not stop in front of anyone's house. We do walk past but if these people live in the city people are going to walk past

David Tucker, London Walks

David Tucker, from London Walks, said his group does have larger numbers, but he stressed it would not be as many as 100.

"We are extremely sensitive to the locals and we do not stop in front of anyone's house. We do walk past but if these people live in the city people are going to walk past."

"You have to ask is it better to take one larger group or eight parties of 12 people through?" he added.

Mr Tucker, who used to take Jack the Ripper Tours said Londoners themselves go on the tours and businesses in the area are pleased with the increase in trade.

He maintained that they have never had any incidents of residents complaining directly to his tour group but said the trouble may well come from "cowboy" operators who are cashing in on the interest.

From Hell, which refers to a taunting letter written by the Ripper, giving his return address as From Hell, is due out in the UK in February.

See also:

28 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Depp on Jack the Ripper's trail
04 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Depp drama excites Venice
15 Oct 01 | Film
US box office 'hurt by scares'
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