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13 Miller's Court AFTER 1888.

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  • #46
    This photomontage of Dorset Street from my forthcoming book illustrates just how the scene has changed. Notice that the original alignment of the street is further to the right, (i.e. further South) than the service road of today.

    Click image for larger version

Name:	Dorset Street 1900s Montage reduced 2011 Andrew Firth.jpg
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    All the best


    • #47
      Sorry about the Spotty Muldoon. This is the link I meant to post :


      • #48
        Andrew, which way are we looking on that picture--which by the way is extremely helpful--is Millers Court ahead of us or behind us?


        • #49
          Originally posted by Chava View Post
          Andrew, which way are we looking on that picture--which by the way is extremely helpful--is Millers Court ahead of us or behind us?
          We are looking east, from the Providence Row end, towards Commercial Street. Millers Court would have been located to left of the carriage that appears in the distance.

          All the best


          • #50
            Millers Court was below the third gaslight on the left in that photo.


            • #51
              Thanks Guys!


              • #52
                re: The Blood-stained Walls

                Hi everyone.

                I was reading back over this thread and wondering whether the walls of Mary Kelly's room might really have been "blood-blackened" years after her murder.

                John McCarthy was a smart man; a businessman and an entrepreneur. He had known Mary personally. His shop was just across the way from where she died, and we know that he had a wife and family. I find it very hard to believe that he would have left Mary's blood all over the walls for years- think how disgusting that would have been not only for future inhabitants of Mary's room, but also for all the other residents and neighbors, as well as for John McCarthy and his family. If he was at all inclined to be so lazy as to leave the blood-stains, I think he would have gotten an earful from his wife! By 1901 McCarthy was upwardly mobile and actively resisting Dorset Street's "Worst Street In London'' epithet, spending money to print pamphlets, etc- would he have done so while leaving Mary's blood all over the walls of his rental unit?

                I have to think there was some kind of attempt to clean the walls after the police were done. Perhaps this wasn't 100% effective, as the bloodstains could have seeped into the grain of the wood. It might have required a layer of darkish paint to cover up the remains of the bloodstains.

                I wouldn't be surprised if John McCarthy never again set foot in the room after November 1888. We know that #13 was a tiny room with a fireplace. In the 19th C. poor people used tallow candles, which are made from rendered animal fat rather than wax- they are notoriously smoky and greasy. Maybe over time the walls acquired (or re-acquired) a dark layer of smoke, soot, and grease, and in later years this was pointed out to sight-seers as "Mary Kelly's blood"? If later residents were earning pennies on the side by showing the room to sight-seers it would have been to their advantage to propagate the myth. There might even have been individuals willing to go so far as to "touch it up a bit" to heighten the effect if it was earning them attention as well as income.

                I'm curious to hear what others think of this possible scenario.

                Thanks and best regards,
                Last edited by Archaic; 09-28-2011, 02:07 AM.


                • #53
                  Smoke, soot and grease wouldn't have blackened the walls as described. A bit of blood on the lower parts, if not wiped off, could in a manner of a year or more, stain and turn to a blackish colour. But the blood would have been wiped clean -- the room could never have been rented otherwise. The Kit Watkins stuff was just journalistic exaggeration. McCarthy turned the contents of the room over to the police, and they disappeared. End of story.


                  • #54
                    Originally posted by Scott Nelson View Post
                    Smoke, soot and grease wouldn't have blackened the walls as described.
                    Hello Scott.

                    Many Victorian writers mention the walls of tenements, lodging houses, etc., being "black" with the combination of smoke, soot, and grease. Here are a couple of quick passages from the 1883 book 'How The Poor Live' by George R. Sims:

                    “The room was no better and no worse than hundreds of its class. It was dirty and dilapidated, with the usual bulging blackened ceiling, and the usual crumbling greasy walls.”

                    "There is a broken chair trying to steady itself against a wall black with the dirt of ages."

                    Smoke, soot and grease weren't the only culprits- I forgot to add dirt, dust, dampness, and tobacco smoke, as they also darken wood.

                    As an antique dealer I've cleaned very, very dark wood- wood so dark it can't be identified- only to discover that it's actually a light-colored wood such as oak, pine, or elm that's simply filthy from a combination of the above-mentioned pollutants. Sometimes the amount of grime that comes off is utterly revolting- and I'm talking about nice pieces of antique furniture that came from better-off households. God only knows what the walls of an old slum room such as Mary's might have looked like! The wall beside her bed seems to have been made from old scrap-wood believed to have once been a door, and that wood could have turned very black indeed.

                    Best regards,


                    • #55
                      There was one more reason for the inside of a poor dwelling to be black and greasy - London smogs would have also caused this. The smogs, commonly known as 'pea soupers' (yellow, not green), contained black, greasy particles which seeped in through doors, window posts, etc. and covered everything. Even the upper-class London residences were not exempt from this horror. The servants had to cover the furniture and the inside of windows to try and keep everything as clean as possible during the period of a smog. They really were terrible things. Not to mention the health hazards, of course.

                      I can remember when I was still at school in Chatham, as late as November, 1962, when the schools were informed that a smog was on it's way to us from London. Those of us who lived more than 30 minutes away by bus, or, in the case of myself, 30 minutes away by shanks's pony, were allowed to leave at once. The November 1962 smog was the last we 'received' in the Medway towns and I well remember not getting home in time before the yellow awfulness engulfed me and I could barely see 3 feet in front of me. A man and I just managed to avoid colliding with each other! It was a very strange sensation actually being outside during a smog. It deadened all noise and not being able to see hardly anything made it even more eerie.
                      I was very relieved to get home that late afternoon!



                      • #56
                        Hi Carol.

                        That's a good point, and it sounds like you had quite an adventure that day!

                        I thought I knew every kind of equine under the sun, but I had to look up "shank's pony".

                        I found out that they're the kind with 10 toes.

                        Your pal,


                        • #57
                          Originally posted by sdreid View Post
                          I believe the female Canadian reporter who checked out Miller's around the turn of the century mentioned a woman living in Kelly's room. Sorry that my memory is not more specific.
                          I remember this same story, possibly from one of my books???, but not sure. As I recall also, the woman who lived there was rather wretched and claimed the blood stains were still there and never came up.


                          • #58
                            Hi Danae



                            • #59
                              Thanks Robert, that is the same article I was referring to.


                              • #60
                                I know this is a little off topic of the thread we are now in, but I was wondering what actually happened to Mary's bed? Was it burned or destroyed??? If it wasn't, it should have been. Surely McCarthy would not have left the same blood soaked mattress there for another renter.