The East End of London has one of the bloodiest histories in Britain.
From the beginning, the East End was known as ‘outcast London’ — it was a space beyond the city wall, where London’s unwanted or undesirables lived. East-Enders were blamed for the Great Plague of London; Jack the Ripper prowled here, as did the Ratcliffe Highway murderer and the gunmen of the famous Sidney Street siege (attended by a top-hatted Winston Churchill). Communists, Fascists, strikers, Suffragettes and Skeleton Armies have all fought running battles through its streets. Then the East-End weathered the worst that the Nazi bombers could throw at it during the dark days of the Blitz. Historically viewed as a ‘den of iniquity’, and once teaming with opium dens, prostitutes (known locally as ‘tigresses’) and paupers, all living amidst the horrendous poverty depicted by Henry Mayhew and Charles Booth, this is a story of dreadful odds and of determination, filled with horror, grim British humour and hundreds of incredible years of history.