On the night of Polly's murder, two fires broke out at the docks; one in a warehouse at London Docks and the other in an engineering workshop at Ratcliffe Dry Dock. Does anyone know the exact locations?
The fire was said to have started in an engineering building surrounded by tenements and spread to engulf 800 tons of coal nearby. The only trouble is, it also set light to a sailing ship moored nearby, but there doesn't seem to be any sign of a dock near the workshop. Am I off target here, or did the dock disappear between 1888 and 1894?
Ok, as a result of information received (many thanks Robert!), I've now managed to locate Ratcliffe Dry Dock (marked as Ratcliffe Cross Wharf on the OS map, which is why I couldn't find it) slightly further east than my previous guess.
Handily, the Goad insurance map shows the area in great detail;
It seems the fire started in a building used as an engineering workshop (presumably the one marked as Shipwright's Shop), quickly spreading to the coal bins next door in Keepier Wharf and damaging the Working Men's club and pub (the Ship) beyond that, as well as several properties in Broad Street. It also ignited the sails and rigging of the sailing ship Cornovia, which was in the dock at the time.
Was the exact cause of the fires ever determined? Was arson suspected?
Were any officers from Whitechapel called to deal with this emergency?
Good questions, Harry. Both fires were recorded as "Cause unknown" in the initial official reports, make of that what you will. No idea if that changed subsequently, but an engineering workshop doesn't sound too suspicious a place for a fire to have started.