Delving into Ripper case

Martin Old pictured with literature relating to Jack the Ripper
Martin Old pictured with literature relating to Jack the Ripper

CRIME story enthusiasts are being invited to take a journey into Britain’s grisly past when a college course examines the infamous Jack the Ripper murders.

Hartlepool College of Further Education is running a short course on the Whitechapel murders which saw at least five prostitutes murdered in 1888.

The sinister killer dubbed Jack the Ripper was never caught and his possible identity remains the subject of much debate to this day.

The new college course will delve into the victims’ past and look at what life in Victorian London was like at the time.

It will also look at investigation methods used by police of the day and discuss who the Ripper may have been.

Course tutor Martin Old said: “I have been interested in the subject, particularly the victims for several years.

“I thought it would be something that the public are interested in and I am anticipating quite a healthy interest for it.

“We are doing our best not to glamorise the killer, but are trying to use the course to remember the victims who we shouldn’t forget had lives before they were brutalised by this man.”

Martin will bring the past to life using a host of old maps, facsimile letters claiming to be from the Ripper, police reports, coroner’s reports and more.

The course, which will run for three weeks, will examine the poverty in Victorian East End London and aims to dispel myths about surrounding the victims.

As well as the five main Whitechapel murders the course will also examine other similar murders from the time including one in Gateshead and another in New York.

The Ripper mystery continues to grab the public’s imagination spawning countless, movies, books and TV shows like the new BBC series Ripper Street.

Prominent ripper suspects include Aaron Kosminski, a Polish immigrant; ‘quack’ doctor Francis Tumblety; Liverpool cotton merchant James Maybrick; and Queen Victoria’s physician Sir William Withey Gull.

The adult evening class is one of a number of free bite-sized courses which the college in Stockton Street is offering starting on January 21.