Posts Tagged ‘cat masks’

Rip Down the Ripper Facade!

Sunday, June 19th, 2022

Rip Down the Ripper Facade! When Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe, a former former head of diversity for Google got his architects to apply for planning permission to turn a building on Cable Street in East London into a ‘Museum of Women’s History’ the application stated it would “recognise and celebrate the women of the East End who have shaped history, telling the story of how they have been instrumental in changing society. It will analyse the social, political and domestic experience from the Victorian period to the present day.” The application his architects submitted was illustrated with pictures of suffragettes and other notable women from the past.

Rip Down the Ripper Facade!

But when the boards around the site came down in 2015, everyone was shocked to see it was instead it had been turned into a ‘Jack the Ripper Museum’, exploiting the unfortunate women who had been the victims of a series of unsolved murders in the East End in 1888. The architect who made the application and others who had been consulted made clear they had been duped into supporting the project and there were protests outside by members of the local community including the Bishop of Stepney, the Rt Rev Adrian Newman, and Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs.

Rip Down the Ripper Facade!
Class War Womens Death Brigade arrive for the protest

But most of the protests outside the tacky tourist attraction have been by Class War and its supporters along with feminists including London Fourth Wave Feminists who, together with Class War’s Womens Death Brigade organised the protest I photographed on June 19th 2016. These groups continued to protest after others – including Tower Hamlets Council – appear to have given up.

Rip Down the Ripper Facade!
London Fourth Wave Feminists were there waiting

The council in 2016 refused retrospective planning permission for the shop front and ordered changes to the signage and the removal of a metal roller shutter, which the shop had installed after a window was broken by persons unknown in the middle of the night – not during one of the protests outside as Wikipedia (and possibly the shop owner) suggest. I think I was present at all of the various protests except for the first rather tame event which the local council had arranged to calm things down after Class War and others had widely advertised one for the following evening.

Class War women had brought inflatable plastic hammers

The planning decision was appealed by the shop, and even after their appeal failed the council failed to take enforcement action and it was not until 2018 that the shop front was redesigned. Bad publicity from the protests possibly contributed to the commercial failure of the shop, though there were also poor reviews from visitors who felt it not to be value for money.

Black-clad protesters arrived set off some red smoke

Class War did not of course ‘Rip Down the Ripper Facade’ but the action was typical of their street theatre with inflatable plastic hammers and a little coloured smoke, while the Fourth Wave Feminists came with cat masks and posters to make clear why they were opposed to the shop’s glorification and profiting from violence against women. Eggs were thrown at one of the signs the shop had been ordered to remove and the windows were liberally covered with stickers, but there was no permanent damage.

Rip Down the Ripper Facade!
Ian Bone reaches past police to post a sticker on the window

During the roughly hour long protest there were no customers who came to try and enter the shop, and none inside left. Although London was spilling over with tourists on a Sunday afternoon in June, apparently none wanted to visit this particular tourist attraction. It had been hoped it would close after it was put up for sale in April 2021, but appears still to be open.

More on My London Diary: Rip Down the Ripper Facade!


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Jack the Ripoff

Saturday, June 19th, 2021

Tower Hamlets council were pleased to apporpve a planning application in 2014 to convert an empty Victorian building in Cable St into a ‘Museum of Women’s History’, particularly since Whitechapel’s Women’s Library had closed the previous year. Owner Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe’s application featured pictures of suffragettes and trade union campaigners and promised the museum would be “the only dedicated resource in the East End to women’s history” and “recognise and celebrate the women of the East End who have shaped history, telling the story of how they have been instrumental in changing society. It will analyse the social, political and domestic experience from the Victorian period to the present day.” (Quoted in Wikipedia.)

On the basis of these promises the architects were persuaded to carry out the work for a lower than normal fee, and various others provided consultancy services at no cost. All, including the council, where shocked and felt duped when the covers were removed from the site in 2015 to reveal instead a ‘Jack the Ripper’ museum glorifying the unknown murderer of a number of working class women in the East End in 1888.

There were various protests organised outside the museum including some backed by the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, who found his council unable to take any real action over the deception, various women’s groups and Class War. Finally the local council did refuse retrospective planning permission for the shop front and ordered changes to the shop’s signage and the removal of a metal roller shutter installed after a window was broken during protests in 2015. The shop owner appealed against the decision and lost. The projecting sign was removed at some time in 2017-8 but I think the shop has failed to comply with some other aspects.

On Sunday 19 June 2016 Class War and supporters including London Fourth Wave Feminists in cat masks, protested outside with toy plastic hammers offering to take down the shutter which had been declared illegal.

Police guarded the shop and prevented the protesters going inside but seemed generally fairly relaxed about the protest, with at least one making clear his distaste for the tacky tourist attraction they were having to protect. At one point they and the protesters were engulfed in red smoke after a couple of black-clad men arrived to join the protest, quickly fading away as the smoke cleared, with the protest then continuing in good spirits.

The good news is that the shop was put up for sale in April 2021 and is expected to close and take on some new use once sold. I’m not aware of any plans for its use and it will quite likely end up as some kind of offices, but it would be rather more satisfactory if it were bought and actually opened as a ‘Museum of Women’s History’. As I write it appears to still be unsold.

Rip Down the Ripper Facade!


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