East London Advertiser
Saturday, 1 September 1888.
HORRIBLE MURDER IN BUCK'S ROW, WHITECHAPEL.
The Central News says: Scarcely has the horror and sensation caused by the discovery of the murdered woman in Whitechapel some short time ago had time to abate when another discovery is made which, for the brutality exercised on the victim, is even more shocking and will no doubt create as great a sensation in the vicinity as its predecessor. The affair up to the present is enveloped in complete mystery, and the police have as yet no evidence to trace the perpetrators of the horrible deed. The facts are that Constable John Neil was walking down Buck's-row, Thomas-street, Whitechapel, about a quarter to four on Friday morning, when he discovered a woman between 35 and 40 years of age lying at the side of the street with her throat cut right open from ear to ear, the instrument with which the deed was done traversing the throat from left to right. The wound was about two inches wide, and blood was flowing profusely. She was discovered to be lying in a pool of blood. She was immediately conveyed to the Whitechapel mortuary, when it was found that besides the wound in the throat the lower part of the abdomen was completely ripped open, with the bowels protruding. The wound extends nearly to her breast, and must have been effected with a large knife. As the corpse lies in the mortuary it presents a ghastly sight. The victim seems to be between 35 and 40 years of age, and measures five feet two inches in height. The hands are bruised, and bear evidence of having engaged in a severe struggle. There is the impression of a ring having been worn on one of the deceased's fingers, but there is nothing to show that it had been wrenched from her in a struggle. Some of the front teeth have also been knocked out, and the face is bruised on both cheeks and very much discoloured. Deceased wore a rough brown ulster, with large buttons in front. Her clothes are torn and cut up in several places, bearing evidence of the ferocity with which the murder was committed. The only way by which the police can prosecute an inquiry at present is by finding some one who can identify the deceased, and then, if possible, trace those in whose company she was last seen. In Buck's Row, naturally, the greatest excitement prevails, and several persons in the neighbourhood state than an affray occurred shortly after midnight, but no screams were heard, nor anything beyond what might have been considered evidence of an ordinary brawl. In any case, the police unfortunately will have great difficulty in bringing to justice the murderer or murderers.
A fire broke out shortly before 9 o'clock on Thursday night in one of the huge warehouses of the London Docks. The docks were closed as usual at 4 in the afternoon, and there are then few persons except the night policemen and firemen left on the premises. At about half-past 8, a smell of fire was noticed and shortly afterwards there was an immense burst of flames from the top of one of the vast buildings right in the centre of the docks. The volume of the fire was terrific, but at 9 o'clock the authorities of the fire brigade had heard nothing of the occurrence. Shortly afterwards an alarm was given at the Whitechapel Station, and the officials of the brigade instantly ordered every steamer to proceed to the scene, and the circulation of the news amongst the other stations caused steamers to be sent on from every district in London. On arrival of the engines it was found that a fire of enormous strength was raging in the upper floors of a great building about 150 yards long and half as broad. The flames could not have broken out in a more dangerous part of the docks than the site of this fire - the South Quay Warehouses. They were crammed with colonial produce in the upper floors, and brandy and gin in the lower floors. Through the great iron-barred windows the fire could be seen raging like a furnace, and the enormous tongues of bluish and yellowish flames which constantly burst up with great roars pointed to the fact that spirits were aiding the progress of the flames. Gradually steamer after steamer was got to work, for it was seen that only a great body of water would subdue the fire, and at 10 o'clock the very considerable force of 12 steamers, as well as some hydrants, was fully engaged in playing on the flames. In the breaks in the great building, where the goods are hauled in by means of steam cranes, escapes were pitched, doors broken open, and the fire met face to face. The proceedings of the members of the brigade were particularly exciting when they essayed to burst open huge doors through the cracks of which a fierce fire could be seen raging. The scene at half-past 10 was an imposing one. In the enormous docks, crammed with goods of incalculable value, with vast buildings on every side, and with great vessels in the wet docks, firemen, policemen and dock officers were either watching or aiding in endeavoring to extinguish the fire, while an enormous crowd gathered round the great gates and gazed at the progress of the fire from a distance. In a great shed building close to the fire the steamers had been drawn up in little clusters of twos and threes, and were pumping continuously with a deafening noise, while the horses, which had been unharnessed, stood quietly in couples in every corner. The water poured over the granite stones of the docks in torrents, and the whole scene was brilliantly illuminated by the fire above. The great question was how far the fire would spread; but the opinion of one of the experts that a "hole would be knocked in it directly all the steamers could get to work," was slowly but surely fulfilled as the night advanced. By 11 o'clock the fierceness with which the fire was burning begun to be diminished, and presently the firemen were able to circulate the official "stop" message, stating that the two top floors of the provision warehouse had been nearly burned out and part of the roof destroyed. At midnight, however, the great force of firemen and extinguishing appliances were still at work.
[There were two fires that night in the London docks. The dock fires are mentioned at both the Nichols and Chapman inquests, and provided part of John Pizer's alibi. Here's why the likes of Pizer and Ellen Holland found these fires such a spectacle!]