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Evocative reminders of grisly crimes

At the top of Ladbroke Grove in west London you’ll find Bartle Road. I valued a house there some years ago. Immediately adjacent to the house is a garden about the width and depth of a building plot, so when viewed from a distance the terrace has the appearance of a row of teeth with the middle one missing.

Having an inquiring mind, I asked why this was the case. I was told the area had been redeveloped in the 1960s and that the adjacent garden marked the exact location of No 10 Rillington Place, where John Christie murdered at least six women in the 1940s and 1950s. He buried their bodies either in the garden or under the floorboards.

The owner of the property I was valuing knew nothing of this until she had lived there for many years.

She was disturbed by the fact that she used to let her children play and dig around in the adjacent garden when they were young.

The question as to whether the value of her house was in any way affected by the local history is an interesting one but a subject for another day.

Surveying properties with grisly connections is not uncommon. On Bedford Hill in south London there is a well known building called The Priory. Decades ago it was converted into flats, most of which I’ve surveyed over the past 20 years or so.

In 2005 the BBC ran a short series of period docudramas, one of which told the story of Charles Bravo. In what is now one of the upper floor flats, he was poisoned to death in 1876 by either his wife, who was having an affair, his wife’s lover or his housekeeper, who he mistreated. The case to this day remains unsolved. Call me a hopeless romantic if you want, but I do love visiting this building and wondering what stories its walls could tell if only they could speak.

Immediately to the south of Bethnal Green Station in east London there is a small, innocuous road called Tapp Street, sandwiched between railway arches and soaring council blocks. The most significant building on Tapp Street is a former pub once called The Lion, although locally it was always referred to as The Widow’s on account of the licensee’s status.

Towards the end of the 1990s the building was converted into seven flats, a number of which I’ve had the opportunity to value. Only a few years ago while on holiday in Spain with my good friend Rioja, I was reading a book about gangland London, only to discover that The Lion had been a favoured haunt of the Krays.

From this establishment on the night of March 9 1966, Ronnie Kray set forth to murder George Cornell in the nearby Blind Beggar pub (pictured) in Whitechapel. Evocative stuff, isn’t it?


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