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Feature

Jack the Ripper ‘grew up in Ashton and went to University of Manchester’

Ashton – home to Ikea, PG Tips and… Jack the Ripper..?!

Alex Watson

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Zboralski / Wikimedia

It’s widely agreed that we do not know the true identity of Jack the Ripper, but one author has claimed that he was actually from very close to home.

This claim comes from an author called Richard Patterson, who wrote a book titled ‘Jack the Ripper: The Works of Francis Thompson’ – with Francis hailing from Ashton.

In case you’ve got no idea what or who ‘Jack the Ripper’ is – I’m not entirely sure how you’ve got this far in your life without knowing – I’ll clear some things up for you.

Essentially, Jack the Ripper is what we now know as a serial killer. Jack famously stalked the streets of Whitechapel in London in 1888, and brutally murdered five sex workers.

Illustrated London News/Wikimedia

The true identity of Jack the Ripper was never discovered. Even back then people were desperate for fame and claimed to be The Ripper, but nothing was ever concluded.

It was the level of gruesome horror of the murders that was shocking at the time – and now – with the killer removing internal organs, and mutilating the genitals, face and abdomen of the women.

What was often noted was the intricate surgical skill and knowledge of the killer which indicated they knew what they were doing, perhaps they were a surgeon or even a butcher?

Well, Richard certainly thinks so. He claims that Francis Thompson was a poet that grew up in Ashton, attending Owens Medical College in Manchester as a surgeon, before moving down to London, living on the streets in Whitechapel and then becoming famous for his ‘works’.

essaysinhistory/Wikimedia

Richard makes a few main points in his book to argue his case; the childhood of the Ripper; the skill required; and finally, fame and fortune.

So we’ll kick off with the skill because we’ve already touched on that.

The accuracy, speed and expertise required to do the horrendous acts the Ripper did means they needed to have some pretty high skills with a knife or a scalpel.

The poet Francis Thompson, Patterson is very keen to note, would have been very proficient in the use of knives and scalpels. Thompson also had extensive knowledge of the human anatomy due to his six-year long medicinal studies at Manchester’s Owens Medical College.

jtrforums/Wikimedia

Next, the Ripper’s childhood and how the heck he became a dab hand with a surgical knife.

It’s now known that serial killers often are categorised as ‘psychopaths’ and have a very particular set of behavioural traits that often show from a young age.

Of course, Patterson has got good reason to believe that Francis Thompson had all these behavioural characteristics.

From bed wetting to animal cruelty and arson – which even made it to the Ashton Reporter newspaper – Thompson had all of these.

National Police Gazette/Wikimedia

He also had an unhealthy attitude to women and has been quoted as writing the following about a doll: “With another doll of much personal attraction, I was on the terms of intimate affection, till a murderous impulse of scientific curiosity incited me to open her head, that I might investigate what her brains were like”.

The book concludes that Thompson’s childhood ‘that included fire-starting, mutilation of dolls and refusal to communicate’, showed he was unsound and most likely a psychopath.

And finally, fame. Thompson completed his studies at Owens Medical College and headed for the bright lights and big city to pursue a career of writing in London.

Many argue that he pretty swiftly had a ‘mental breakdown’ when he discovered that the streets of London were pretty unkind to a Northern poet.

He became destitute and homeless, living in shelters in the East End. During this time he became outrageously addicted to opium, he also entered a relationship with a sex worker whose identity was never revealed, who looked after him.

Robert Lamb/Geograph

Patterson attributes the later breakdown and failure of this relationship as the main motive for Thompson killing sex worker on the streets.

What was also important, Patterson points out, is that Thompson was similar to his victims, i.e. ‘destitute and undesirable’ so he would be ‘invisible’.

The book states: “They needed to be like Francis Thompson. When the murders happened, Thompson, then an ex-medical student, lived just a 15-minute walk to where all five women were knifed. The bed of this man, whose writing shows a hatred of prostitutes, was only 100 metres up the road from the last victim. At this time Thompson was carrying, under a long coat, a knife, which he kept razor sharp. All while he was hunting for a prostitute after their failed relationship.”

The Ripper murders ended abruptly with little fanfare but Patterson has got a reason for that too.

Around the time of the murders in 1888, Francis Thompson sent his poetry to a magazine, Merrie England, and was somewhat ‘discovered’.

From there, Thompson was off the streets and writing, out of trouble and less likely to get caught.

There are about five other people that it could be according to this blog, but Patterson makes a pretty convincing case for Jack the Ripper being Francis Thompson from Ashton-Under-Lyne.

You can get his book here and come to your own conclusion, I’ve got it on good authority that it’s an interesting read (It’s also only £3.50 on kindle – bargain).

Feature

Explore the abandoned Camelot theme park in these haunting photos

It could be a massive housing estate.

Alex Watson

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@pollyann27 / Instagram

Research shows that nearly £800m of unlocked property potential sits inside the abandoned Camelot theme park site.

Set over 140 acres, research suggests the area that was once Camelot could hold 6,294 properties with an average price of £126,000.

This equates to £793,016,000 of potential property value if a scheme could be arranged. 

However, the building of well over 6,000 properties is a huge scale production, unlikely ever to get approval – but there clearly a lot of potential for the area that just sits abandoned. 

Camelot Theme Park
Adele/Flickr

The research by togethermoney.com into derelict properties includes the Chorley based Camelot theme park in a list of similar abandoned properties all over the world, including Germany, China, Japan and even Namibia. 

The research states: “Inspired by the legend of Camelot, the UK theme park located three miles from Chorley opened its doors in 1983 and operated until November 2012 when due to declining visitor numbers the park closed for good.

“Whilst certain rollercoasters were sold to theme parks around Europe, many of the rides remain abandoned seven years later. ‘Urban explorers’, whilst warned off the site, are regularly found walking the tracks of the decaying rollercoasters, avoiding the 24/7 security that roam the perimeter.

“Several planning applications for housing estates have been submitted and subsequently rejected by Chorley Council, the most recent in March 2018.”

Camelot has been abandoned for years now, collecting dust and looking seriously creepy.

You can explore the park in these haunting photos:

camelot theme park 025
Scrappy nw/Flickr
Camelot Theme Park
ADELE/FLICKR
Camelot Theme Park
ADELE/FLICKR
Camelot Theme Park
ADELE/FLICKR
Camelot Theme Park
ADELE/FLICKR
Camelot Theme Park
ADELE/FLICKR

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Feature

Northern accents are all starting to sound the same, new study finds

This is weird!

Alex Watson

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David Dixon/Geograph

A new study at the University of Manchester shows that all Northern accents are beginning to sound the same.

Linguistics expert Dr Patrycja Strycharczuk and colleagues from the university have suggested that accents from the North of England are beginning to blend into one.

The study set out to uncover whether there was such a thing as ‘General Northern English’, something they have called the general accent spoken by the middle-class folk of the North.

Dr Strycharczuk said: “I often hear statements like ‘I’m from Liverpool / Manchester / Sheffield, but I don’t have the accent’ – however, there is very little systematic evidence that General Northern English really is a coherent variety, so that’s the question we asked ourselves.”

The study examined the accents of people from Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and more with the results struggling to find a difference between the accents, only finding that those from Liverpool and Newcastle have a more distinct accent.

The study also found that much of the traditional dialect isn’t present anymore, but typical characteristics of a general Northern accent are retained such as shortening words like ‘bath’ and ‘glass’.

Dr Strycharczuk added: “It may seem as though local accents are dying out, but we believe we’re actually seeing a new variety becoming established – educated, urban and northern.

“I think its prestige has increased, and people are now less tempted to lose their accent if they’ve been to university or they do a lot of public speaking.”

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Feature

What the chancellor’s summer statement will mean for you and your family

Everything you need to know…

Alex Watson

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Bill Boaden / Geograph

Rishi Sunak has announced today the economic schemes for post-coronavirus, and they include some pretty big changes.

Mr Sunak announced a £2bn kickstart scheme designed to create jobs, incentives for businesses to bring people off furlough, VAT cuts, a stamp duty holiday plus more.

Details of how this package will be paid for – by tax increases and borrowing – are expected to be unveiled in the chancellor’s Autumn budget.

Here’s a breakdown of his main points:

Furlough

Members of the public who have been placed on furlough as part of the government’s Job Retention Scheme are aware that this is coming to end in October, but many people have been concerned for the future of their jobs.

Mr Sunak today announced an incentive for businesses to bring back those employees that are on furlough, with a £1,000 bonus for every person they bring back into the workplace.

He said: “So for businesses to get the bonus, the employee must be paid at least £520 on average, in each month from November to the end of January – the equivalent of the lower earnings limit in National Insurance.”

Employment

The chancellor has also announced a £2 billion kickstart scheme that will pay employers to create jobs for people aged between 18 and 24. The government emphasised that they need to be ‘good jobs’, and the government will pay six months of wages plus an amount to cover overheads. The grant for a 24-year-old will be around £6,500. 

There will also be a new £2,000 payment to firms who take on apprentices. This is alongside an unspecified amount of funding for career advisors.

On top of that, there’ll be traineeships to get young people ready for work, including work experience placements and work preparation for 16-24-year olds. 

Tourism & Hospitality

The chancellor has cut VAT for the tourism and hospitality sectors on food, accommodation and attractions from the usual 20% to 5%, which will come into effect from next Wednesday and last until January 2021.

Mr Sunak has also announced that everyone in the country will be given 50% off meal and drinks for the whole of August through a ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme.

This scheme sees a 50% reduction up to a value of £10 per head on sit down meals and non-alcoholic drinks Monday to Wednesday.

The chancellor hopes this will get 1.8 million people who work in the hospitality industry back in jobs and ‘customers back in restaurants, cafes and pubs’.

Businesses can claim the money back from the government and the funds will appear in their bank account within five working days.

More details on the Eat Out to Help Out scheme are yet to be confirmed.

It is currently being debated as to whether the reduced VAT will be passed onto the consumer in lower prices as many in the sector will consider this as an opportunity to shore up their finances and ail their business.

Buying a Home

If you’re in the market for house-buying, the chancellor announced a stamp duty holiday which could save you thousands.

The rate at which stamp duty will be placed on a home has been increased from the usual £125,000 to £500,000 in England and Northern Ireland, with immediate effect until March 31st.

The stamp duty holiday hopes to get people buying houses again, a sector which suffered a big drought throughout coronavirus.

The chancellor explained that on average people buying a home could save £4,500, and current homeowners moving on could see savings as big as £14,999.

Many people have expressed concerns regarding how this will help first-time buyers. Around 16% of housing sales in England are not liable for stamp duty as is the case with first-time buyers.

Currently, first-time buyers only pay a 5% stamp duty on houses between £300,000 and £500,000 which means this scheme will not affect new buyers directly.

Those buying a new home or second home will reap the benefits of this scheme.

Green Home Grant

Mr Sunak has announced a budget for home improvements that will help your home become ‘greener’, for instance, double glazing, eco-friendly boilers, low-energy lighting, energy-efficient doors and loft, floor or wall insulation.

The scheme will start in September and will see the government pay for at least two-thirds of the cost of home improvements that save energy, up to a value of £5,000.

Low-income households are expected to receive a larger contribution of up to £10,000.

This is expected to create new jobs and enable the UK to achieve its 2050 goal of net-zero carbon emissions. More information can be found here.

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