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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..?!

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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

Artist creates haunting post-apocalyptic images of Manchester

This is so spooky…

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James Chadderton Art

We’ve probably never been as close to an actual ‘apocalypse’ than this shoddy year…

James Chadderton is a British mixed-media artist who works consistently on creating apocalyptic landscapes.

They often show nightmare-inducing scenes of cityscapes that blend the line between reality and fiction.

James takes inspiration from dystopian films and video games, drawing the viewer into a crazy alternative reality. 

James Chadderton Art
James Chadderton Art

Using famous Manchester landmark he turns the urban landscapes into haunting post-apocalyptic scenes. 

Not only does it give us an insight into what the world might look like after an apocalypse, it gives you the chance to let your imagination run wild and wonder how and why. 

James’ portfolio includes work for Manchester legend Peter Hook, who he designed the cover of his EP 1101/2011 for. He’s also even worked with EA on the Battlefield franchise. 

His work has been displayed up and down the country but now you can have it in your very own home. 

James Chadderton Art
James Chadderton Art

He’s also done images of London, Liverpool and even the iconic Blackpool tower. 

You can see more images here and even buy one for your house! 

 

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Feature

What the stars of legendary ’90s show Gladiators are up to these days

Including prison, drugs and religion.

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gldiatorstv/Instagram

It’s been 20 years since the hit ’90s show Gladiators graced our screens for the last time, but where are all the muscly stars now?

The fun-filled show was packed with dramatic battles, HUUUUGE muscles and too-tight lycra.

Let’s begin with Michael Ahearne, aka Warrior, who started life as a junior England rugby player before joining the hit show and earning up to £100,000 a year. 

In 1998 Ahearne was sent to prison for perverting the course of justice in a famous firearms case involved Phillip Glennon Jnr, an associate of former international cocaine baron Curtis ‘Cocky’ Warren. He was found guilty, and Ahearne served six months of his 15-month sentence.

Then in 2018, he was subject to a police raid of his home in the Wirral where officers uncovered a stash of anabolic steroids. He was arrested on suspicion of possessing Class C drugs with intent to supply but wasn’t charged in the end – however, Ahearne was charged for possessing CS spray and received a six month sentence suspended for 12 months.

Sharron Davies, otherwise known as Amazon, was a successful swimmer before the show, even winning a silver medal at the Moscow Olympics in 1980. She’s now a TV presenter.  

Mike Van Wijk, aka Wolf, was one of the most popular Gladiators, starring on the show for seven years in which time he became the main villain.

He’s now 67 and in the ‘best shape of his life’ with arms bigger than my head – he lives in New Zealand and owns his own business called Wolf’s Gym. This year, he announced on Lorraine that he’s begging producers to bring the show back. 

Diane Youdale, or Jet on the show, bowed out of the programme after four seasons due to a neck injury. She’s now a psychotherapist and pilates instructor. 

James ‘Hunter’ Crossley started on the show when he was just 19, and ended up secretly dating the show’s presenter Ulrika Jonsson between 1996 and 1997. Since Gladiators ended he spent years pursuing an acting career, but has consistently kept up with fitness. He’s now a personal trainer. 

Kim Betts, aka Lightning, was one of the toughest Gladiators. After bowing out of the Gladiator ring she took to property development and also has her own beauty parlour. She has maintained her physique and regularly posts gym photos on social media. 

Michael Wilson, known as Cobra, struggled with drink while on the show and by his own admission was sometimes ‘bleeding drunk’ while on the show. He admitted last year to press that he ‘didn’t take it too seriously’, adding: “There were end of show parties, when we had international Gladiators come over, we would be up all night boozing.”

Now, he is a motivational speaker attending schools and clubs up and down the country. He suffered with pneumonia last year and became seriously ill, blaming the tough workouts on the show for it. 

Jefferson ‘Shadow’ Kin found himself at the centre of a drug scandal in 1995. At the time he said: “There is no excuse for cheating. I was mixing with drugs before Gladiators and when I was tested during the show there were no traces of cocaine but they found steroids.”

He spent the best part of 20 years battling with drug addiction. He got clean and now works in a rehabilitation centre helping others with drug issues. 

Mark Smith, aka Rhino’, has made multiple TV appearances including a stint on EastEnders and in shows such as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, and NCIS: Los Angeles.

Warren Furman, known as Ace, became most well-known for his two-year engagement to Katie Price – who was then known as Jordan – before they broke up in 1999. However, he turned his back on show business, found god and now lives in York with his wife and two kids. 

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Feature

Inside the Wigan home ‘frozen in the 1970s’ that’s on the market for the first time ever

This is ICONIC!

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Regan and Hallworth

If you love the ’70s you’ll love this house that is going on the market for the first time, which will transport you to the decade of platforms, flares and shag pile carpet. 

The family home in Wigan is thought to be going on the market for the first time ever, but inside is a ’70s lover’s dream.

Throughout the entire house is décor from the decade, including a retro orange sofa, plenty of frosted glass and shag carpets of course. 

It’s three bedroom and is tucked away in Parbold on Croasdale Drive.

Regan and Hallworth
Regan and Hallworth

Estate Agent Regan and Hallworth say that ‘despite requiring extensive modernisation’ the house ‘has an undeniably timeless appeal’.

You’ll also find teak wood storage units in just about every room, and plenty of earth-toned accessories throughout. 

Regan and Hallworth

There’s a huge copper fire place in the living room complimented by dark brown walls and a patterned ceiling. 

The kitchen is covered with white cabinets with a wood trim, an unusual corner sink situation, plus a fitted microwave on the lower half of the cabinets. 

Regan and Hallworth
Regan and Hallworth

The bathroom is covered in dark marble tiles and a frosted window above the bath, complimented by gold furnishing and trims on both the toilet and sink – plus a gold shower! 

For all the quirky features the house is actually surprisingly minimalist, it’s bright and has a big open plan living room. 

Regan and Hallworth

It’s also been designed with an upside-down layout meaning the bedrooms are on the ground floor while the living room is on the second floor, taking advantage of the views over the trees. 

The house is located on a leafy lane and features a glass-front, extensive driveway space with a double garage and plenty of greenery to enjoy from your orange sofa.

Regan and Hallworth
Regan and Hallworth

Regan and Hallworth add: “We don’t believe that ‘Beech Hill’ has ever been on the open market before and offers an incredibly rare opportunity for a wide range of buyers to purchase a home of true distinction with tons of potential without having to pay the huge premium you normally expect to pay to live in one of West Lancashire’s most sought after locations.

“Available with the added benefit of no upward chain, early viewing is highly recommended.”

Offers are in excess of £400,000. Find out more info here

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